Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The strawberry handkerchief : a romance of The Stamp Act online

. (page 1 of 27)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe strawberry handkerchief : a romance of The Stamp Act → online text (page 1 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook























'The 'voice of the people is the
sivord that guards them."





Published, September, 1908






A. D. 1765






IV A HOUSE PARTY ..... . , : ., . 76

V THE UNWELCOME LOVER . . . . . . 103





X THE UNKNOWN HELPER . . . . . . 264


XII LIBERTY AND LOVE . . . . . . . . 334



ONE hundred and fifty years ago there was not in New
York a more picturesque dwelling than that of Captain
Jansen Van Vroom. For, speaking broadly, the Dutch house
is as full of character as the Dutch man; it is, in fact, the
outward and visible sign of a mentality, quite unique and
distinctive. No Englishman, no American, no Frenchman,
or Italian, ever builds his residence after the order of Hol
land. It would not represent him, it would never be the
home of his feelings and his imagination.

But Captain Jansen's house was a solid reflection of the
domestic side of his character; he had been building it in
his heart and mind twenty years, before he realized it in
its material beauty. As he stood by the wheel of his ship,
or walked her deck, he was always planning the light, spa
cious rooms, the lockers and closets, the low, wide stair
ways, the walls wainscoted with native woods or panels of
Dutch tiles. Its gilded weathercock, its red-tiled roof, the
picturesque plenty of its gables with their ends notched like
steps towards the street the blending of bricks of various
colors, glazed and laid in checkers on the wall, the window
caps of bricks set edgewise the immense square chimneys
the kindly looking doorway opening in half, and above it
cut in large white stone the motto he had himself composed :

'* My Captain has brought me into a good Haven."

These things were slowly, but very clearly, evolved from
his mentality, and so plainly set in order before the build
ing began, that any deviation would doubtless have plunged
him into a distracted perplexity.

2 The Strawberry Handkerchief

He had chosen for its location a tract of land lying on
the North River, and running eastward to Broadway. The
house stood nearly in the center of this tract, and was sur
rounded by a garden that was for eight or nine months of
the year a little drama of color and scent and beauty. Not
even Joris Van Heemskirk had such a garden. Some people,
who did not like Van Vroom, affected to think Van Heems-
kirk's house the finer of the two; but there was no possible
dispute as to the gardens. Van Vroom's was a little bit
of Holland transferred to New York. Everyone paused
to look at its high box hedges, and quaintly cut trees, its
graveled walks, its glory of every flowering bulb, its pretty
pleasure house and boat house, its " mottoes and verses for
a good heart," and its beds of all kinds of herbs for food, and
for perfume, and for healing. But however it came to pass,
that a sailor man could be such a wonderful gardener, was
one of those problems of the Dutch character that no one
has yet solved. Jan had spent nearly his whole life at
sea, and yet he was always able to send his neighbor Van
Heemskirk a dish of peas or berries a full week before Van
Heemskirk's were ready to eat; or perhaps a basket of flow
ering bulbs while yet Van Heemskirk's were unfolded.

"With my good regards I offer them," were the com
plimentary words that ever accompanied such gifts, and in
that hour of giving he felt friendly to his rival, all com
parison being for the time suppressed in his own manifest

He was sitting smoking one afternoon on the long stoop
which faced the river, and watching the birds build in the
vines that covered its lattice work. They twittered to him,
they hopped from their nests to his shoulder, they rested on
his hand or his pipe-stem, and when he answered them in
a low whistle, they seemed to understand. Many big, fierce
men had sailed with Captain Jan, and stood in constant

The Household of Van Vroom 3

fear of him, but the little birds knew that he loved them,
and that they were quite welcome to the shelter of his porch.
His large, stolid, sun-browned face, with its black beard, and
black brows, and pale blue eyes beneath them, held only
kindness for them; and though he was great-handed, and
thick-legged, and all his fashion out of measure big, they
made him their familiar, and chatted to him about their
mates and their housekeeping in the most candid manner
imaginable. At least he said so, and it was not well to
contradict Captain Jan about anything that took place
in his house or his garden.

He looked to be quite at rest, and yet his heart was
musing over many things, and not altogether satisfied. That
morning he had sent Van Heemskirk a basket of daffodils
and fresh garden cress, with the usual message of good will,
and Van Heemskirk had not been content to return his cus
tomary verbal acknowledgment; he had written a letter,
praising Jan's flowers and salad, and regretting a little his
own more tardy varieties. Then he had suddenly turned
the subject to the closing of the French war, and the glory
of the great peace consummated.

" And so on," mused Jan bitterly ; " what he will say
next, I know. Read it, I will not," and he pushed the
letter into the lattice work, and shifted his chair a little
further away from the offending words.

Now it was not the way of Jan's face to reveal what was
passing in Jan's heart, but there was one woman whom
neither sign nor the want of sign could deceive. Jan's
mind was an open book to his wife, Katrina, She came to
the house door and glanced at her husband, then placing a
chair beside him, she sat down. She did not speak, nor
even smile; her knitting was in her hands, and she went
calmly on with it. Jan was equally unresponsive. He kept
his pipe in his mouth, his face was without expression, his

4 The Strawberry Handkerchief

eyes fixed upon a linden tree at the river side. There was
an apparent vacuum between them. Jan made the first move :
he looked at Katrina with a swift side-long glance for her
more vital nature was drawing him like a magnet then he
stirred slightly, sighed, and let his eyes meet the loving eyes
waiting for the moment, as he softly murmured one word:

" Katrina."

" My Jan ! What troubles thee? "

" No trouble have I."

" Van Heemskirk sent thee a letter."

"Well, then, it was about the flowers and the cress."

"And what else?"

Then Jan laughed. " A little witch art thou, Katrina.
It was about the peace. Glad of it, is he; and well he
knows I am not glad. So, then, his letter was unkind."

" Yes, but thou art glad, Jan. Very glad indeed, art
thou. Say that to everyone. It is also the truth. Think
once, of the French and Indians butchering their way down
to New York. Come! come! The victory was a great
victory the peace is a good peace and that thou must say."

" It is no good for Jan Van Vroom, and most of our men
of standing will say the same thing. No more privateering.
Privateering has gone to the tuyvel, Katrina; and what will
my ships do now, I wonder? Much money I shall lose.
Van Heemskirk knew this well; then I take it unfriendly
in him to remind me of the peace."

" Van Heemskirk judges thee by himself. So he measures
thee of full stature. He is a good neighbor, Jan."

" Not so, Katrina. Good neighbors I have none ; but I
give myself no komber because of that. Whose fence touches
mine? You know it is the fence of that proud Scot, Alex
ander Semple. I take leave to say, he is anigh intolerable.
He talks of the King as if he had more right to talk of
the King than I have. If his Majesty is named in the way

The Household of Van Vroom 5

of conversation, he lifts his beaver; and if to the Presence
he could come, it is on his knees he would be, no doubt of
that. He is a Scot, and I was christened in the first Garden
Street Kirke ; yet this Scot is an elder in the Kirke, Katrina,
and I am not an elder no, nor even a deacon. I sit in my
own pew that my grandfather bought when the Kirke was
built. I make all my subscriptions, every Sunday I give
twice once to the poor, and once to the Kirke also I think
of my dues and my charities. I am for the government
if the government will make us some wars, and let
my good ships have a little business to do. And if Elder
Semple is loyal, his wife is a Stuart woman; a Popery

"Come! Come! You must take care, Jansen, and then
pray God Almighty to have care of you, too. Such words
are not wise."

" Yes, yes. They are wise and well known. Madame
Semple is an enemy of King George. Speak but the King's
name, and she will echo it with ' Royal Charlie ' or the
'Bonnie Prince ' or other words that will be anigh to high

" Well then, Jan.' I also dislike Janet Semple. She is
a willful woman, that will have her way, and her way is
not a good way. A woman should ask her husband how
to talk, eh, Jan ? "

" Good ! You say what is true. Madame Semple is not
particular in her principles, and she cannot keep quiet her
busy tongue. Katrina, do you know any woman who can
be silent? Give her your right hand, a good friend she
will be. Well, then, to make short work of the Semples'
neighboring, let me tell you, I like not their son Neil. Have
you noticed the silent, haughty youngster? From the Kirke
he always manages to walk home by the side of our Vir
ginia. I cannot bear that young man."

6 The Strawberry Handkerchief

" Very little I notice him, and Virginia thinks not at all
of him. Trouble not thyself on that likelihood."

" There is Bram Van Heemskirk, too ; a father must
have fears for the young men. A girl like Virginia can
not escape their eyes, and their foolishness."

" Virginia Van Vroom will look higher than Bram Van
Heemskirk, or Neil Semple. For a great lady we have
brought up our daughter."

" Christus! A great lady? Not so, Katrina. I will
marry my daughter to a fine Dutch sailor."

"And who then is this fine Dutch sailor?"

" It is Batavius De Vries. Since ever Virginia was a little
child on my knees, I have been thinking what man she must
marry. Now, I have made up my mind."

"A long time it has taken thee."

" Well, then, I am very precise in my way of thinking.
I must have testimony to honesty and religion and respecta
bility. That is right, eh, Katrina? "

"Yes, it is right but "

" Many years I have been watching Batavius. I am satis
fied with the man. I have made up my mind, slowly, yes,
but it is now settled; and I do not have to make it over
some more. Batavius shall be my son, and my partner, and
all will go well with us. Already he has bought one-third of
The Crowned Bears, and he has gold in the Amsterdam
Bank, and in the London Bank, and much land he owns
here in New York. I have thought of these things, for
that is my way, and I am satisfied with all I have planned ;
and it shall come to pass."

" I know not. Virginia has some thoughts of her own
about her marriage. She only laughs at Batavius ; when she
sets him by the side of Joris Artaveldt she will not fail to
make some comparisons."

" That is the way of a young girl, silly and scornful, and

The Household of Van Vroom 7

not knowing the thing good for her. Those two Artaveldts
are my uttermost dislike father and son, I hate them both.
I am owing Justice Artaveldt for some words I do not

" Too touchy art thou. Courteous and friendly is Jus
tice Artaveldt to thee, always so. I have noticed that."

" The tuyvel take his courtesy and friendliness ! I know
not the kind he uses. Listen, Katrina! It may be ten
days ago, I was leaning on my front gate, smoking my pipe
and thinking of many things, but not thinking very hard.
By and by I see Mr. Justice Artaveldt coming down the
street, and something said to me, ' Trot back into the house,
Jan; thou art wearing thy worst-sleeved waistcoat, and the
silk cap on thy head is frayed and soiled ' ; and I was turn
ing on my heel, when I got better counsel: ' Stay where
thou art. At thy own gate, and on thy own land, thou
art standing.' So I moved not an inch, and I thought the
Justice would touch his beaver and pass on but, no! He
wanted to talk about the press-gang, and he thought as I
was a sea man I would say some things."

"But thou did not?"

" To Gustave Artaveldt ? No fool am I ! I knew noth
ing, I cared nothing; I said I was thinking of De Lancey,
who I heard was sick; and then Artaveldt takes up the De
Lanceys, and calls on all men to honor them. Such a noble
family ! Such great men ! So brave ! So handsome ! ' But
that is in the blood, Captain,' he went on ; 'it takes a
thousand years to make a gentleman, and the Artaveldts,
bless the Almighty ! could hark back much longer than that ' ;
and so he gave me a lot of names dukes and counts
Flanders men all of them I think that."

" No, no, Jan ! The de Artaveldts come from Lorraine ;
they are a fine family."

" This, or that, Katrina, I care not ; but I was such a

8 The Strawberry Handkerchief

damned fool, that I, too, must begin to boast about my
ancestors. I said they were none of them men forgotten.
I told him how Bernard Van Vroom first took sail through
the steaming seas around Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Japan ;
how there was a headland in Japan called after him, and
also an island in the Javanese Sea. ' And you may see, Mr.
Justice,' I said, ' in the Town Hall at Rotterdam, a big
map hanging, showing Van Vroom's voyages and dis
coveries.' "

" And what said he to that, Jan ? "

" He said, ' The sea was a great continent, and no one
knew what happened, or what did not happen, on it. But
that with sword, and lance in hand, the Artaveldts had
taken, and held the lands on which they had been living
for thirty generations. He said the holding of these lands
was the law and the testimony of the Artaveldt nobility,
and he thought it was a poor man who could not serve him
self ' and many words such like."

" Thou should have told him "

" Wait, Katrina. I did tell him. I said the state maps
and the named lands were good titles to the Van Vrooms'
services to Holland; and, moreover, I said I thought it was
more honorable to serve our moder-country than to serve
our own hands. And I asked leave to remind him that the
Van Vrooms had not forgotten to look a little after their own
affairs, seeing that we owned land this day, sold by Governor
Stuyvesant to my great-great-grandfather, who was also
among the Order of Great Burghers established by Gover
nor Stuyvesant. And the smile on Artaveldt's face was
such a smile as I wished to sweep off with one movement
of my big hand but I put my pipe in my mouth, and
held my peace."

" A wise thing for thee to do."

" A hard thing for me to do say that."

The Household of Van Vroom 9

"And what answer made the man to thy words?"

" He asked me what a Great Burgher might be was he
a baron, or squire, or lord of the manor? And I answered
he was a rich man Mr. Justice and my voice was loud
and sharp a very rich man, who could pay for the honor
of being among the twenty names that were then the
aristocracy of New York. So he asked then, how much
they paid? And I told so much as five hundred guilders,
but for this they filled all the public offices, and were
exempt from attainder and confiscation of goods. So then
he asked, what of the rest? and I told him they were
called Small Burghers, and paid fifty guilders and had the
freedom of trade only. He said most extraordinary! He
wondered that he had never heard of the Order, but he
thought he must pay his five hundred; for in these days of
treason it would be worth while to be exempt from at
tainder and confiscation of goods."

"Well then?"

" I said, it is past. It only lasted eleven years, for then
came Lord Lovelace and the English, and Lovelace made
all citizens equal. Then Artaveldt thumped his stick on
my brick sidewalk and cried out ' Very proper indeed ! I
am against an artistocracy of wealth ! It is the most vulgar
and offensive of all distinctions! It is a pernicious differ
ence! abominably pernicious!' And so lifting his beaver,
and touching his brow with the gold knob on his stick, he
walked off as pompous as if from all the French kings and
counts he was descended; and just then I had no words
ready for him."

" Very good was that. Silence is the unbearable an
swer. Keep thy anger secret, Jan. After all, what was it
but a few words? They were nothing. His son Joris
is a man that all praise. He is Virginia's friend since
these many years. With him she first went on the ice,

io The Strawberry Handkerchief

her lessons he helped her to learn, to dance he taught her,

V J>

" To the heart of my dislike, thou art coming. I think
Joris Artaveldt is in love with Virginia, and that foolishness
he will be teaching to her next."

" Dost thou think all the young men in New York are
in love with Virginia? "

" All of them that have any light in their eyes are in
love with her. See then, for that very cause I have chosen
her a husband to make her happy and give her no adven
tures. It is adventures that make women wrong and

. "Art thou thinking of Batavius De Vries? She will
never marry that man. I have told thee. Cast that thought
out of thy mind."

" That I will not. For seven years it has been the
first and the last thought. About it I have now no
doubts, not one. That is the end of the matter. I am

" Just now it is the end, for I hear the boat scraping the
shingle. That will be Rose and Virginia returning."

" Where have they been ? "

" On the river with Joris Artaveldt."

" What did I tell thee? See now ! "

" Well, then, I think Joris may be in love with Rose.
His father would like it so."

" I, too, would like it so. It would be a great satisfac
tion to me, and for once Justice Artaveldt and Jansen Van
Vroom would be of the same mind. And, Katrina, if this
friend of Virginia's be Lady Rose Harley, then in my
house let her be called Lady Rose. I do not object to
titles, not at all. Whoever is good and noble may say so.
Disguising the matter is improper."

" Lady Rose is handsome enough and proud enough to be

The Household of Van Vroom n!

a queen, but she loves Virginia like a dear sister. So soon
as she saw her, she loved her."

" She could not help that no one could. I have on my
Flemish ruffles and long waistcoat, so then I will stay
here and make welcome to my house this English lady
that will be proper, and she will expect it."

Madame did not answer. She went into the house and
her husband followed her. Together they stood at a win
dow watching the two girls slowly stepping up the flight
of low, stone stairs leading from the beach to the first
grassy lawn. They were hand in hand; they were singing
and laughing at the song which they were evidently only
learning, for they corrected themselves, and went over a
strain, and then ceased suddenly, and stood watching the
apparently troublesome task of fastening the boat.

Jan's eyes lengthened and widened with delight, and
his face was transfigured with love as he watched them.
Presently young Artaveldt came bounding up the steps and
passing gently between the girls, took a hand of each. Then
the Captain moved restlessly.

" Katrina," he said, " what a great thing it is to be young!
Yes, indeed, what a great thing it is to be crazy! "

Katrina slipped her hand into his " We, too, Jan ! We
are crazy yet! Would thou be wiser? "

" To be a fool with thee, I am content. Look once at
Virginia. Is she not the fairest creature God ever made? "

" She is thy only daughter, but thou must not forget thy
dear son."

" My boy can fight for his will, and his right, but my
sweet Virginia must be cared for every moment. The dar
ling can not say this or that for herself."

" 'A great mistake that is. Cross thy Virginia's will, just
once, and thou wilt have thy big hands full. Look at the
Lady Rose, is she not very lovely?"

12 The Strawberry Handkerchief

" She is like a gypsy. For such a dark woman I care not.
She is nothing to Virginia but a great difference yet I
have known some men who thought much of dark women.
I understand not such men. She will match young Arta-
veldt very well. May a good Fate send a gold ring between

Madame nodded her head, and kept her eyes on the two
girls and the young man approaching. The glory of the
setting sun was behind them, the young spring flowers at
their feet, the young green leaves above their head, and all
the winds of Love and Hope blowing softly through their
lives. They were yet in a world that expected every good
thing from everybody. So they came into the presence of
the Captain and his wife with a confident joy fulness, and
the Captain rose to the occasion. He gave Lady Rose a
welcome full of honor and kindness, and she rewarded him
with a bewildering glance from her large brown eyes, and
spread out her skirts in such a coquetishly alluring courtesy
that there leaped from some long forgotten corner of the
Captain's memory a bow of grace and admiration to answer
it. He was astonished and pleased with his own aptitude,
and he took an instant liking to the beautiful girl who had
caused him to behave with so much gallantry and fashion.

They had trooped together into the large houseplace;
they were wind-blown, and sun-flecked, and hungry; and
Virginia asked anxiously about the tea hour. Then Madame
came delightedly to the front of emergencies. Her face
strong, sympathetic, and sensible beamed upon the in
quirer; her words were full of hospitable kindness. She
called servants to lay the damask cloth, and then, assisted
by Rose and Virginia, she set in order the china and crystal
and silver necessary. In a short time the large table held
one of those simply luxurious meals called " high teas " ;
and, oh, the innocent mirth of the girls, the ringing laugh-

The Household of Van Vroom 13

ter of Artaveldt, the loving care of Madame, the delightful
dictation of the Captain ! Such repasts are not all material ;
a spirit informs them; they are a kind of household sacra
ment, and cannot be classed with mere physical feeding of
flesh and blood.

After tea was over they gathered round the Captain, and
it would have been a sour and sullen nature that would
not have joyed itself in the exquisite home picture the big
room presented. For though the living room of the family,
it was a very handsome apartment large, lofty, and fur
nished with a quiet splendor no one could have believed the
outcome of the imagination of the big sailor who had planned
k. The floor was of dark oak, and well covered with soft,
rich rugs; the fireplace was a Dutch poem. It was of im
mense size, with jambs of glazed tiles representing scenes
from the fatherland, mostly of famous ships and water
ways; its accessories and fittings, even to the broad, long
fender, of brightest steel. The walls were paneled half
way up in native woods. Above the paneling there was a
dark green background, adorned with pictures of great
value a Titian, a Rembrandt, and three of those famous
landscapes with figures by Adrian Van der Velde which
were even at that day so rare and so precious in the homes
of the Netherlands. The furniture was all of black oak,
finely carved, trimmed and banded with brightest steel. In
one big Nuremburg cabinet there were so many drawers,
and tiny closets, and hiding places, that Madame after
twenty years' possession was sometimes surprised by the
discovery of a fresh one. Crystal and china filled the corner
cupboard, silver sconces were placed at intervals on the
walls, the high chimneypiece bore the arms and sea trophies
of the Van Vrooms, the sideboard and cabinets the silver
punch bowls and wine jugs, the six-fold candlesticks and

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe strawberry handkerchief : a romance of The Stamp Act → online text (page 1 of 27)