Jeanie Gould Lincoln.

An Unwilling Maid Being the History of Certain Episodes during the American Revolution in the Early Life of Mistress Betty Yorke, born Wolcott online

. (page 12 of 12)
Online LibraryJeanie Gould LincolnAn Unwilling Maid Being the History of Certain Episodes during the American Revolution in the Early Life of Mistress Betty Yorke, born Wolcott → online text (page 12 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


"In New York?" said Moppet, with a start. "Why you said he'd gone to
England."

"But he could come back, surely. Moppet, _I_ think he was proper fond of
Betty."

"Peter Provoost, do you fancy that my sister would smile on a scarlet
coat? You ought to be ashamed of yourself," and Moppet looked the
picture of virtuous indignation.

"Well, I've seen her do it," retorted Peter, not in the least abashed,
"and what's more I heard him call her 'sweetheart' once."

"Oh, Peter!" Moppet's curiosity very nearly got the better of her
discretion; but she halted in time, and bit her tongue to keep it
silent.

"And if you won't tell - promise?" - Moppet nodded - "not a word, mind,
even to Betty - where do you think I saw Captain Yorke the other day?
You'll never guess; - it was at Fraunces's Tavern on Broad Street, and he
was in earnest conversation with General Wolcott."

"With my father?" This time Moppet's astonishment was real, and Peter
chuckled at his success in news-telling.

"Children," called a voice from the hall, "where are you? Do you want to
come with me on an errand for Clarissa near Bowling Green, which must be
done before the streets are full of the troops?"

"Surely," cried both voices, as Peter dashed in one direction after his
cocked hat, and Miss Moppet flew in another for the blue hood. Betty
waited until the pair returned, laughing and panting, and then taking a
hand of each she proceeded up Wall Street to Broadway, and down that
thoroughfare toward Bowling Green. Before they had quite reached their
destination the sound of bugle and trumpet made them turn about, and
Peter suggested that they should mount a convenient pair of steps in
front of a large white house, which had apparently been closed by its
owners, for a number of bystanders were already posted there. They were
just in time, for around the corner of William Street came a group of
officers on horseback, their scarlet uniforms glittering in the sun. It
was Sir Guy Carleton and his staff, on their way to the Battery, where
they would take boats and be rowed over to a man-of-war which awaited
them in the bay. A murmur, then louder sounds of disapprobation, started
up from the street.

"There they go!" cried a voice, "and good riddance to Hessians and
Tories."

Betty's cheeks flushed. Oh, those hateful scarlet coats, symbols of what
had caused her so much misery. And yet - with another and deeper wave
of color - it was Geoffrey's uniform and these were his brother officers,
going where they would see him; oh, why, why, was fate so unkind, and
life so hard! Another moment and they were out of sight, but keen-eyed
Moppet caught a glimpse of Betty's downcast face and said to herself,
"Oh, I dare not tell her; I wish I did."

Out on Bowery Lane and away up in Harlem, over King's Bridge, with
measured step and triumphant hearts the Continentals were entering the
city. What a procession was that, with General Washington and Governor
Clinton at its head, and how all loyal New York spread its banners to
the wind and shouted loud and long to welcome it! There were the picked
men of the army, the heroes of an hundred fights, the men of
Massachusetts who had been at Lexington and Bunker Hill; General Knox in
command, and General Wolcott with his Connecticut Rangers, while Oliver
rode proudly at the head of his company. It was a slow march, down the
Bowery and through Chatham and Queen streets to Wall, thence up to
Broadway, where the column halted.

It would be vain to describe Betty's emotion as from the windows of the
Verplanck mansion she watched the troops and the civil concourse, and
realized that at last, after long years of heroic endurance, of gallant
fighting, of many privations, the freedom of the Colonies was an
accomplished fact. Miss Moppet and Peter flew from one window to another
and cheered and shouted to their hearts' content. Even Grandma Effingham
and Clarissa waved their handkerchiefs, while Gulian, on the doorstep,
raised his cocked hat in courtly salute to General Washington. Gulian
was beginning to learn that perhaps one might find something to be proud
of in America, even if we were lacking in the rank and titles he so
admired.

Oliver's wedding, which was set for six o'clock, to allow the
commander-in-chief to be present before the banquet at Fraunces's
Tavern, was to be on as grand a scale as Madam Cruger's ideas could make
it; for having consented to her daughter's marriage, that stately dame
proposed to yield in her most gracious fashion. It took some time to
dress Miss Moppet in the silken petticoat and puffed skirt, the tiny
mobcap and white ribbons, which Kitty had considered proper for the
occasion, and Betty found she must hasten her own toilet, or be late
herself. Moppet followed her up to the old room where Betty had spent
so many hours of varied experience, and assisted to spread out once
again the flowered brocade, which had not seen the light of day since
the De Lancey ball.

"Here are your slippers, Betty; how nicely they fit your foot."

"Yes," said Betty, her thoughts far across the sea, as she slipped on
one of them.

"I hope those are wedlock shoes," quoth Moppet, with a queer,
mischievous glance, as she tied the slipper strings around the slender
ankle. But Betty did not heed her; she was busy undoing the knots of
rose-colored ribbon on the waist, which she had once placed there with
such coquettish pride.

"What are you about?" cried Moppet, seizing her sister's hand as she was
in the act of snipping off one with the scissors. "Oh, Betty, the gown
will not be half so pretty without them."

"Nay, child, rose-colored ribbons are not for me to-day; I am grown too
old and sad," said Betty softly, looking with tender eyes into Moppet's
face.

"Did ever I hear such fal-lal nonsense," and Moppet's foot came down in
a genuine hot-tempered stamp which made Betty start, "Betty, Betty, I
will not have it - pray put them back this moment;" then in the coaxing
voice which she knew always carried her point, "What would Oliver and
Kitty say if you were not as gay as possible to grace their wedding? Oh,
fie, Betty dear!"

As usual Moppet had her way, and when the pair alighted at the Cruder
door Betty's knots of rose-color were in their accustomed place.

Within the mansion all was light and gay. Weddings in those times were
conducted with even more pomp and ceremony than in our day, and the
entertainments, though not upon the present scale, were fully as lavish.
Wax candles shone at every possible point, and lit up the broad
reception-hall, the polished floors and high ceilings, while mirrors on
mantels and walls reflected back many times the stately figures which
passed and repassed before them. And then there came a pause, when
voices were hushed, and down the oak staircase came Kitty, led by Gulian
Verplanck (her nearest male relative), wearing a white satin petticoat
(though somewhat scanty to our ideas in width and length), and over it
a, train of silver brocade, stiff and rustling, while a long scarf of
Mechlin lace covered her pretty dark head and hung in soft folds down
her back. The high-heeled slippers, the long lace mitts, with their
white bows at the elbow, completed her toilet. She stood before the
assembled company a fair young bride of the olden days, and behind her
came Miss Moppet and Peter Provoost, holding her silver train with the
tips of their fingers. Oliver, in full Continental uniform, his cocked
hat under his arm, awaited her at the end of the great drawing-room, and
with somewhat shortened service, the rector of old St. Paul's said the
words which made the pair man and wife.

[Illustration: "I HOPE THESE ARE WEDLOCK SHOES"]

Betty was standing near the mantel, laughing and chatting gayly with
several of her former New York gallants, when she beheld her father
advancing toward her on the arm of a gentleman. Surely she knew that
tall, elegant figure, that erect, graceful carriage? But the scarlet
uniform which was so familiar was absent; this was the satin coat,
small-clothes, and powdered hair of a civilian. Betty's head swam, her
brilliant color came and went, as her father said quietly! -

"My daughter, an old acquaintance desires that I should recall him to
your recollection; I trust it is not necessary for me to present to your
favor my friend, Mr. Geoffrey Yorke."

Betty's knees shook as she executed her most elaborate courtesy, and as
if in a dream she heard General Wolcott say to Yorke, with a somewhat
quizzical smile, "Perhaps you will kindly take Betty to the library,
where I will myself join you later after escorting General Washington to
the banquet."

Betty never knew how she crossed that room; every effort of her mind was
concentrated in the thought that she must not betray herself. What did
all this mean? Such a blaze of sunshine had fallen upon her that she did
not dare look at it; she only realized that her hand was in Geoffrey's
until they reached the quiet and deserted library, and then he was at
her feet.

"Sweetheart, sweetheart," he said, "you will not refuse to hear me now?
I have resigned the army, I have left England forever (unless you
yourself will some day accompany me there to meet my people), I have
thrown in my fortunes with the United States, and doubt not I will prove
as faithful a servant to your Commonwealth as I ever was to King
George," and kissing her hand, he, laid in it the faded knot of
rose-colored ribbon.

"But, Geoffrey" she faltered, "my father" -

"Did not General Wolcott himself bid me fetch you here? Ah. Betty, the
conditions are all fulfilled, and you are still unwilling."

She looked at him for a moment in silence, and then her most mischievous
smile dawned in Betty's eyes as she hid Geoffery's little knot of ribbon
in her gown.

"My heart but not my will, consents," she said, "Dare you take such a
naughty, perverse rebel in hand for life?"

"I dare all for love of Betty Wolcott," cried the triumphant lover,
while from the door a small person In mobcap surveyed the pair with very
round and most enraptured eyes.

"It's just like a fairy tale," quoth Miss Moppet, "and I'm in it!"







1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12

Online LibraryJeanie Gould LincolnAn Unwilling Maid Being the History of Certain Episodes during the American Revolution in the Early Life of Mistress Betty Yorke, born Wolcott → online text (page 12 of 12)