The Begum's Daughter


LANDING at the dock from the ketch which had brought him over from Breuckelen, Steenie for the first time bethought him that cousin Lysbeth might wonder at his sudden disappearance ; accordingly he flung the boatman an extra string of seawant, and bade him send back at the first opportunity a word of explanation to Vrouw Wickoff.

Watching the clumsy little boat until it reached midstream, he turned, with a deep sigh, and sauntered listlessly homeward. It was after sundown and he was late for supper, but he took no note of the hour. Time and place had become barren names to him ; he wandered as the straggler from a caravan in middesert, aimless and hopeless among the drifting sands.

As, in this mood, he dragged with heavy-footed pace across the bridge, he suddenly felt himself clapped upon the shoulder and a hearty voice sounded in his ear.

“ Where away now, Mynheer ? ”

Looking up, he recognized a young Englishman whom he dimly remembered to have met latterly at the governor’s house, at church, and at divers routs and frolics among the foremost people in the town. The fact that he could not recall the man’s name showed the extent of their acquaintance.

“ Fie, now, Mynheer Van Gortlandt! you are surely never going to affect not to know me ? We have met more than once. Egad, with so many friends in common, we have very good warrant to consider ourselves old acquaintance : the quicker to bring about such a result, what say you now to going home with me to pot-luck? ”

Taken aback at this unexpected offer of hospitality, Steenie began to stammer some pretext for declining, but the watchful stranger gave him no chance.

“ See you there, now, what labor you have to find an excuse, the surest of all signs that you have none at all. One may see by your air, moreover, you have no errand on hand.”

In his state of limp irresolution, the junker needed nothing so much at the moment as somebody to think and act for him. The stranger may have seen this, for, taking his arm with the license of an intimate, he inarched him away, saying laughingly, —

“ Come, Mynheer, you may invent as many excuses for declining as pleases you, on the way, so long as you end by accepting. Never fear, too, but I will make your peace at home ; for know you I have grown into great favor with your worshipful father while you were away voyaging.”

Expressing no surprise or curiosity, Steenie suffered himself to be led away like a docile child, without so much as demanding the name of the new friend who had taken so masterful a control of him.

As it turned out, they had not far to go, for the stranger lived not a stone’sthrow away, in a fair brick house in Liberty Street. Entering, Steenie had a confused sense of unusual luxury in the furnishing, and his notice was especially drawn to the floor by the odd sensation of walking upon a carpet, the first he had ever in his life beheld. A rustling and pattering of small feet was heard presently in the hall, and in bounded a pretty child of ten years, who leaped into her father’s arms, while a quiet, gentle - looking woman, dressed with much richness, stood smiling a welcome in the background.

The lady was introduced as Mrs. Kidd, whereupon Steenie directly recognized in his friend one Captain William Kidd, who had lately been sent over by the government on some special service requiring boldness and skill. Thereupon he regarded his host with more attention and momently growing interest. His charm lay not so much in his handsome person, elegant dress, or engaging manners, — it is doubtful if, in his preoccupation, Steenie noted these historical traits, — but in something back of these: a characteristic of temperament, shown in the abounding vitality, the high-hearted hope and reckless gayety, which caught and fixed the visitor’s desponding gaze and drew him like a loadstone.

Feeling himself, as he afterwards described his state to the dominie, like a disused harp flung unstrung upon the wayside, he welcomed this strange minstrel, who, rescuing him from the rubbish, had attuned him to a new and stirring measure. The minstrel indeed seemed able to sound what chord he would, and the harp lapsed back into its tuneless state when his inspiring hand quitted the strings. This was apparent when, after convivial sessions with his new friend, the guest took his homeward way at the heels of a lantern-swinging slave, and straightway fell again a victim to his old enemy, lurking for him in midnight ambush.

Captain Kidd, however, showed no disposition of leaving his new friend a prey to megrims. He sought him out at his home, dragged him forth to the sunlight and bustle of every-day life, made him by degrees a familiar guest at the luxurious little fireside in Liberty Street, and led him, as. historical gossips whisper, into an occasional carousal, which, whatever it may he accounted now, was held no very heinous offense at the time.

Let it not be thought from anything foregoing that Kidd was an idler. On the contrary, he was the busiest man in town ; so busy, in fact, that his less busy neighbors grew very curious as to his movements. What meant his frequent flying visits to distant points on the seaboard ? What meant his constant communication with Hartford and the Massachusetts by couriers who came on blown and jaded horses, demanding entrance at the Landpoort at unheard-of hours of night ? What meant the long and whispered confabs with rough and sinister-looking men seen hanging around the dock?

In the sanctity of confidence, the secret of all this was let slip to the wondering Steenie. It came at first in the shape of insinuations, innuendoes, and dark hints of changes in the air, of a thunder-bolt hanging over the unsuspecting province. With growing trust in the junker’s discretion, many things Were presently made clearer. There need be no fear now of betraying the captain’s secret in the matter of a hoary old hit of history. “ The lords of trade.” he explained in an impressive whisper, “ are at last aroused to action. The king himself has taken a hand in the matter. War, a bloody war of extermination, is to be waged against the pirates. The colonists are looked to for aid. That they may act more efficiently they are to be thrown together into one body politic ; one governor is to be set over all, — a new man, a strong one, a man chosen for this end (not a whisper of all this, mind you, Van Cortlandt, or I am ruined!), a friend of my own, as it seems ! ” added the speaker, with a wink. “ See, here are his initials, R. C., signed to a memorial to their lordships recommending that the command of the fleet and chief conduct of the enterprise be committed to — whom think you ? Why, no other than one Captain William Kidd, as a person well fitted for the post, ‘ by his great skill as a mariner, his bold and adventurous disposition, his long experience, and, by no means last or least, his ardent and proven zeal in their Majesties’ service.’ What think you now, eh ? Will there not be a whirlwind rattling the loose bricks from these Dutchmen’s chimneys, presently ? ”

A few days later, the incautious mariner handed over to Steenie a letter from his powerful friend in court, commending the management of some business committed to his hands. Of more interest to the junker than the contents was a glimpse which he caught of an earl’s coronet on the seal and the name “ Richard Coote ” signed at the foot of the page.

Once having made a confidant of Steenie, thereafter the captain’s talk was of nothing but of chases, of captures, of hair-breadth escapes, of hold adventures, of bloody combats, of honor, of glory, of endless booty, until the junker went home at night with his head swimming and his heart aflame.

Although no definite agreement had been made, it somehow came to be understood between the two that Steenie was to join the expedition under his new friend in whatsoever capacity was best suited to him.

Meantime, Madam Van Cortlandt had not been blind to the new intimacy formed by her son. There had been much of late in the junker’s behavior to fix her attention, perhaps to modify her views. It is not impossible that riper reflection may have shaken her confidence in the lasting efficacy of sea-air as a nepenthe. Here was a surprising tonic found in mere human companionship, for the bracing influence on her son of the stranger’s society was only too apparent.

Idle curiosity as to the secret of their sudden intimacy doubtless first moved madam to study the stranger, but Steenie’s guarded answers as to the man’s character and profession must have whetted the spirit of inquiry, for one day, having a good opportunity, —she chanced to be sitting on the stoop when he came to ask for Steenie, — she made bold to engage Kidd in conversation.

It was with the weather and divers such humdrum topics they began. The captain’s intelligent talk and well-bred air plainly scored a point in his favor.

“ My son seems to find much content Ln your company, captain,”said the lady presently, coming to closer quarters.

“ No more, I dare swear, than I do in his, madam.”

“ He is not used to take up so readily with new acquaintances,” continued madam, studying the details of the stranger s fine person with observant eye, “ nor carry the matter in so short time to such a pitch.”

“ Indeed ! ” said the imperturbable captain ; “ then must I esteem it a higher compliment that he has honored me out of the common.”

Madam controlled a movement of uneasiness as one checks a sneeze, and cast a quick look at the speaker’s face, as though she had detected a subtle edge of mockery in his last speech.

I fear me he may obstruct your affairs by his frequent comings and long tarryings.”

“ Never a bit; I go about my business as if he were not there, and give him only such attention as my leisure warrants.”

Madam’s cough had a baffled expression, but she held none the less to her purpose.

“ Your sojourn in New York is for some time yet ? ”

“ It is in doubt.”

Surely it is not out of curiosity or pleasure-seeking you choose such an out-of-the-way corner of the world ? ”

“ You divine excellently well.”

The answer was accompanied by a low bow, and a smile lurked about the corners of the speaker’s clean-cut mouth, at which a person less perfectly poised than the hearer might have been disturbed. It is due to the lady, however, to say that no sign of discomfiture troubled her composed face. With one definite point to make in the interview, she suddenly by a vigorous, straightforward thrust achieved it.

” ’T is our wish,” she said, with what now seems like a touch of intuition, “ to get our son settled to some useful course of life fitted to his station and to the newness of affairs in this province. We are concerned,” she continued, fixing a steady and quite significant look upon her caller, “ that he should not be led astray by projects unsuited to one of his training and sober prospects.”

“ Such views are most natural, I am sure,” returned the stranger, with demure unconcern, “ and it is safe to predict that your son will do you honor in whatsoever course of life he may enter upon.”

Further talk was put an end to by Steenie’s appearance. From her bench on the stoop madam followed the two with an inscrutable look, as they went sauntering down the street.

But the gallant captain and his designs were not destined to serve much longer as mysteries. One fine morning, all his pretty secrets took wing and flew out of the window like a flock of birds. And a prodigious flutter they caused. The whole province was thrown into a ferment, from the red-faced governor down in the fort, digesting in indignation the official announcement of his removal, to the widow Leisler and her rejoicing friends in their retirement at Albany, — even to Tryntie, interrupted in her task of plucking geese at the bouwerie by tidings that Rip had enlisted under the great Captain Kidd to go fight the pirates.

It was her husband who carried home the news to Madam Van Cortlandt. He was even more deliberate than usual in unfolding it, and it was only as an incidental and quite trivial detail that he mentioned the circumstance of a commission under the great seal being granted to Captain Kidd to make war upon the pirates. He did not remark madam’s startled look at the announcement. He was much too absorbed with the greater news of the change in the administration. Here, indeed, was food for thought; dark whispers had flown across the Atlantic about Lord Bellomont’s views on the late revolution, and was it not common talk that Cobus Leisler and Abram Gouveneur were frequent and favored guests at his lordship’s house in London ?

“ He is then held to be a man of weight and character ? ” asked madam abruptly, after a long silence.

“ Yes, and rank and fortune to boot! What of that ? Think of the mischief he will make here by ”—

“ Tut, tut! I speak not of Bellomont.”

“ Who then ? ”

“ This Kidd.”

“ He ? Surely. The king had a hand in his appointment. Divers other big lords support him besides Bellomont; he is held to be a man of honor, withal, and well fitted for the enterprise.”

The worshipful ex-mayor, having dismissed the incident, returned to the main theme; he seemed not at all to note his wife’s inattention, as he maundered on in gloomy forebodings as to the effect of this new change of the administration.

Madam, meantime, was busy with forebodings of her own, the result of which duly appeared.

Next morning, at breakfast, her attention was fixed upon Steenie; she cast, frequent looks askance at his grave and preoccupied face in a way that made it clear he was the object of her thoughts. It presently came out that she had been making up her mind as to her course of action with regard to him. It was as straightforward and as lacking in finesse as usual.

“ So the mystery is cleared up at last,” she said suddenly, addressing him.

Steenie looked up inquiringly.

“ Your friend the captain’s momentous business, which has been kept so close. He is set to catch the pirates, it seems.”

The junker flushed rather at the tone than at the words.

“ ’T is no great office, that of a thiefcatcher,” continued madam, in a tone of cold depreciation. “ One would think a man of honor and spirit loath to undertake it.”

“ ‘T is a work of great hardship and danger, which few would dare undertake, and which only a man of great courage and skill could hope to accomplish, answered Steenie, with warmth.

“ Poh ! ” retorted madam, with overemphasized contempt, “ these wretches are like other vermin; one has but to turn upon them. The vulgar skipper of a fishing-ketch is hero enough for this business, give him but money and countenance.”

Steenie made no answer; experience had not been wasted upon him. Silence, moreover, was a policy peculiarly trying to his mother; it was her own especial weapon, which she well knew how to use with varied and formidable effect.

Madam, however, having taken her part, with advisement, pursued it with energy. She continued upon every occasion to belittle the captain and his undertaking, underrate the potential fruits of his success, magnify its perils, and deny that glory or profit could be a possible outcome of the enterprise.

Her son’s continued and ominous silence at last warned the anxious mother that she might be making a mistake, whereupon she abruptly changed her tactics. Early one morning, she went over and laid the whole matter before Dominie Selyns, who had seen Steenie grow up, and had in a way some influence with him.

Long and intimate acquaintance with Madam Van Cortlandt may have led the shrewd old dominie to take her very positive statements with regard to Captain Kidd with a sly pinch of salt; but he knew too that she was afflicted with neither sentiment nor imagination, that she was shrewd and observing, and when she said that Steenie was in a desperate state of mind on account of some fresh quarrel with “ that worthless hussy who for years had made such a fool of him,” he recognized the extreme probability of the rest of the story,—that the disappointed swain was preparing to run away to sea with Captain Kidd, and that they were keeping secret the hour of their departure in order to prevent any interference on the part of family or friends.

The dominie comforted his visitor by promising to take the matter in hand at once. And so he did. Fortunately, he met Steenie on the street in the captain’s company, and made that fact the excuse for a long talk with the junker, in which, having in vain sought to make him confess his engagement with the bold sailor, he plumply taxed him with it.

Steenie was too truthful to deny the charge, but he obstinately kept silent during the dominie’s long homily, and parted from the good man without having bound himself by any promise.

The dominie, however, was too deeply interested to desist from his purpose. Moreover, chance acquainted him with the very fact he most wanted to know. The night following his talk with Steenie, the door of his study was rudely burst open, and a bareheaded little figure, in great excitement, appeared upon the threshold.

“ Oh ! Oh! Oh, moord ! Go ye to him, dominie! Go! go ye! he ‘ll not heed me — ugh! ugh! he had the door shut in my face ! Go, dominie, dear man ! Go and stop him ! ”

“ What, is it you, Tryntie, making such an outcry? Shame, shame! Hush! Sit you down and take your breath ! So — there ! Now what is it ails you ? ”

“He — ugh! ugh! he will take my Rip off to fight the pirates ! ”

“ Who will do this ? ”

“ Yonder man they — call captain.”

“ When did he this ? ”

“ They found him at — at Annetje Litschoe’s pot-house — ugh ! ugh! He was filled with the brandewyn and knew no better —ugh ! —and so bound himself to go.”

“ Poh! dry your eyes, good woman ; when he gets his senses, he may say ’t was all a mistake.”

“ That will he not; he must needs go, he says, being bound; he will hear no reason.”

“ Where is he now ? ”

“ I locked him in the barn ; but he breaks down the door, lets all the cattle to run wild, and follows me till he turns off to Vrouw Litschoe’s, where he is safe enough till they want him, never fear ! Oh, dominie, go ye to yonder man and bid him leave my Rip behind. ’T is but a drunken sot, as ye know, and no good to fight pirates. Go, good dominie, tell him this ! ’T is the last chance, for they ’re away this very night at the turn of the tide ! ”

“ What say you, woman, — to-night ? ” exclaimed the dominie, starting to his feet.

“ This very night, I say ! ”

Without a word the good man opened a clothes-press behind him, and began fumbling among the pegs for his hat and cloak.

“ Ye will go ? ”

“ Yes.”

“ The blessed Lord above go with ye!”

Calling a slave to bring a lantern, the dominie turned upon the threshold for a last word.

“ Get you down to Vrouw Litschoe’s and hold fast to your man, and I will do what I can with yonder captain.”

As good as his word, the dominie lost no time in making his way to the little house in Liberty Street.

Having been shown in, he found the household in a state of confusion which tended to confirm Tryntie’s statement.

Kidd, although very busy, received with politeness his visitor, who, on his side, lost not a moment in coming to the point and making a most earnest plea on behalf of both his petitioners. The captain listened with attention, but seemed not much impressed with the urgency of either case.

“ How then is his Majesty’s work to be done, if everybody is excused upon so slight a pretext ? ”

“ The ties of family, at least, should be respected.”

“ What think you becomes of the expedition if I give ear to this plea ? There is my own dear wife above, crying her eyes out this moment, and my innocent babe asleep in her crib, never dreaming her father is going to run away in the night.”

The dominie, although somewhat staggered by this personal argument, renewed his appeal, however, and with such eloquence and persistence that Kidd at last very reluctantly gave his promise to leave both men behind.

“ ’T is easy enough in the case of Rip, but you will find young Van Cortlandt hard to manage,” said the dominie warningly, as he rose to go.

The captain smiled, and said only, —

“ You have my promise.”

“ It is enough.”

Coming out together into the hall, the two found poor Mrs. Kidd sobbing at the foot of the stairs.

“ Look you here, dominie,” said the husband, putting his arm tenderly about the little woman, “ turn-about, as you know, is fair play : if aught of ill befalls me on this business, here is one will stand in need of a friend and a comforter.”

“ And that she shall find in me so long as I live,” answered the dominie heartily. “ And so good-by to you. Remember to temper justice with mercy in dealing with those rogues, and may God further and bless you in every good undertaking !

The grateful fervor with which this qualified blessing was received came back to the dominie with startling vividness in the light of after-events.

As the person in greatest distress at the moment, the dominie, on leaving Kidd’s; door, bethought him first of Tryntie. Accordingly, he went straight to Vrouw Litschoe’s, where he found husband and wife seated at a little table in the tap-room. Rip, greatly flattered by his wife’s extreme and unexpected agitation at the prospect of losing him, was holding forth grandiloquently between his cups, while the little huysvrouw’s reddened eyes were fixed so steadfastly upon her spouse that she failed to see her pastor.

“ Zoo ! zoo ! Never ye cry, my treasure ! I may come back, after all — though — hic — they say ’t is an awful, aw-hic-ful business, going to fight pirates — they — they ’re bloody-minded wretches, that sort ! One falling into their clutches may r-roast — hic — alive, or boil in oil, or — or — hic — be cut into bait for fishes. Zoo ! zoo! Never cry, I say ! Annetje, good vrouw, see ye not my mug is empty ? I may come back to ye without arms — who knows ? — or w-walking on one leg” —

“ Never! I should die to see ye like that! ” sobbed the little woman. “ Oh, Rip — Rip, I say, ye will not have the heart to go and leave me ! ”

“His Maj-majesty sends for me — he will none but me — there is — hic — need of my arm to put down these villains ! ”

“ No — no — no, man, I ’ll not hear of it. Ye must not go. Would ye leave me to live alone ? Stay by me. Rip — stay, my man ! I cannot part with ye ; ‘t will break my ” —

The impassioned appeal was cut short by a sight of the dominie standing at her elbow. Starting up, she cried with frantic eagerness, —

“ Wel zoo ? ”

“ Your wish is granted.”

“ The captain — he will leave him to me — he will not take my Rip ? ”

Before he could frame a word in reply, the delighted woman had read the answer in his eyes, and, seizing his hand, she covered it with kisses, pouring forth upon him the while an eloquent but incoherent medley of thanks and blessings. In the midst of it all, as it chanced, up came Vrouw Litschoe with a smoking glass of grog. To the amazement of the good dominie, Tryntie snatched it from the hands of the stout landlady and flung it violently to the floor, crying, —

“ Get ye gone with your stuff! Get ye gone, or I ’ll give ye a taste of my nails! Hold! do ye hear?” she continued, turning sharply upon her husband.

“ Ei! ” grunted Rip, stupefied at the sudden change in tone and manner.

“ Do ye hear, I say ? Ye ’ll get no more to drink to-night, and ye ‘ll go home with me ! ”

“ Zoo? ”

“ Come ! ”

“ Ei ? ”

“ Heard ye not what the dominie says? Ye are left behind. They ’ll not take ye to fight pirates.”

“ Umph ! ”

“ Get ye home, I say ! Will ye wait to be haled forth ? ”

“ M-my treasure ” —

“ If ye go not upon the minute, so true as I live, I tear the roof down upon your head.”

Overawed and bewildered, the new recruit suffered himself to be half led, half propelled, from the house by his energetic helpmeet, who, having once more fervently thanked the dominie for his kindness, started homeward with her lumbering spouse in tow.

Later, the same evening, Steenie, awaiting at home a private message which was to warn him of the sailing of the ship, received in its stead the following note: —

MY DEAR VAN CORTLANDT, — Never pass judgment on a man’s action till you know whereof you judge ; nor ever be quite sure of anything in this world save what comes through your five senses. All of which is but preface to saying that I have gone away and left you in the lurch; and though you may never know the reason why I do this, be sure I am not such a fool as to do it without one.

So now vent all your spleen upon me! Rave ! Curse ! Exhaust billingsgate Consign me and the expedition to the devil, if you will ! But, when all is over, and your blood is cooled, call up some tender thought of me, and consider that this scurvy trick I am playing you — and much against my will, I swear — may prove the one act in our short and sweet acquaintance which will some day earn for me your eternal gratitude.

Your obedient servant and loving friend,



From the sweeping confiscation of her husband’s estate Vrouw Leisler succeeded in saving certain valuable chattels, — a part of her own dowry, — and upon the modest income thence derived she was still able to live in comparative comfort.

While on a visit to Albany with her youngest daughter, she was offered by some well-to-do kinsfolk there the use of a small house, rent free, and gratefully caught at the chance of calling together again her scattered family. Accordingly, Mary, now a widow and destitute, was straightway summoned from New York, and Hester from her prolonged visit at New Utrecht.

The two sisters set forth to make the long journey together in a ketch loaded with household stuff for their new home. What with their heavy cargo and contrary winds, however, they made such slow progress that, upon arriving at Esopus, they were fain to quit the vessel and make the last fifty miles on horseback.

Having as their only attendant an old family chattel named Congo, — a part of the above-named dowry,—they accepted with gratitude an offer of escort from an honest citizen of Esopus, going up to Albany to trade with the Indians.

To Mary, whose experience in traveling had thus far been limited to occasional trips to Seawanacky, the journey was full of interest. Much of the way lay through the virgin forest, where the primal charm of spring-time still lurked in the air and ambushed in woody recesses, and everything seemed bursting into riotous life. Knowing well her sister’s delight in all this, Vrouw Milborne noted with much perplexity that Hester soon lapsed from her first mood of enthusiasm into long silences and fits of abstraction, in which she was constantly falling behind to escape the talk of her companions. On encamping for the night, moreover, when Mary, awakened in the small hours by some forest sound, started from her bed of fragrant hemlock boughs, she discovered Hester sitting with her back against a big pine, staring absently at the camp-fire. The care-taking instinct aroused in the young matron, she studied Hester more carefully next day; but having once satisfied herself that her sister’s health was not in danger, she paid no heed to so sentimental a matter as the state of her spirits.

At the end of the second day, the party arrived at Albany. The sisters gazed with natural curiosity at this notable little town, of which all their lives they had heard so much, recalling with new interest the tales told by their grandfather, of Rensselaerwyck and the Indian wars. It was Rensselaerwyck no more, although the patroon still held feudal sway over the town and miles of fertile country round about.

Their first feeling was one of disappointment in its size, as, upon issuing from the woods, it rose unexpectedly before them. Truly, it was a very bit of a town. Bound around so trim and snug with its high stockade, it looked at a distance not unlike a clumsy top with its point in the air. Upon a high hill to the westward stood the fort, inclosing the first rude Stadthuys, and commanding a view of the whole surrounding region, while adown the gentle declivity the town itself, consisting of two or three hundred buildings, more or less, sloped to the river’s edge.

The suppaen-bell was just ringing as the tired travelers passed through the southern gate nearest the river. Within, the town looked even smaller than without, and more droll, yet had, withal, an attractive air of homeliness. Most of the small story-and-a-half houses, with their scalloped gables, like a modern beauty’s crimps, turned towards the highway, fronted upon blooming gardens and grateful patches of green, in which already the tulips were beginning to flaunt their gaudy pennons. There seemed to be but three streets of any size, and at the crossing of the two larger of these, Jonkers and Handelaer, plump, as it were, in the midst of the highway, stood Dominie Dellius’s church, a square stone structure, with its peaked roof ending in a bell-tower.

Here taking leave of their companion with many thanks, the sisters inquired the way, and soon found out the little nook where Vrouw Leisler and her youngest daughter were already busy setting up their household gods. They were received with open arms ; the good vrouw, indeed, moved by divers natural recollections, fairly wept at seeing her longscattered family gathered once more about the little supper-table.

Within a day or two the ketch arrived with the furniture, and thereupon nothing was thought of but getting the house to rights. In a Dutch household this involved an endless deal of scouring, scrubbing, and polishing, in which, with the others, Hester lent an active hand. Her attention thus constantly taken up by petty cares, she had no time for wandering thoughts, the rather that at night so much good honest toil demanded its wage of sound sleep.

The bustle was soon over ; things were arranged to give, so far as might be, a suggestion of the old home in the Strand, and the little household was ordered upon a scale suitable to its modest resources. The routine once established, the work was an easy matter; it was shared, as a matter of course, between Mary and her mother, — both born housewives, — aided by old Congo, a most accomplished factotum.

Thus, for the early part of the day, Hester was left to her own resources. They proved to be meagre. She passed the time wandering, chance-led, about the town, roaming for miles along the river-side, or pacing her own chamber under the ridge-pole. Her face was tense with calculation, like that of one busied with a momentous problem.

At the long afternoon sessions of sewing, spinning, or mat-weaving, however, she made one of the home circle, where the widowed mother and daughter, in strophe and antistrophe, reviewing every smallest detail of their common tragedy, exalted the virtues of their lost spouses to a pitch which might well have caused the rank and file of the saints’ calendar to look to their halos.

This talk, in which she rarely joined save to correct some date or matter of detail, had nevertheless a marked effect upon Hester. She listened with unwearied attention, and always with an air of conviction. At times her face cleared, as if something said had afforded her a present solace, and once or twice she started up and paced the floor with a long-drawn sigh of relief.

The coming to town of so notable a person as Leisler’s widow made a stir. The deep aversion in which her husband had been held by the majority of the townsfolk told strongly against his family, who were received for the most part with cold civility. Dominie Dollies, despite some wrangling with the commander during his life, failed not in the Christian duty of waiting upon his family, which he did in due time, tendering them the hospitality of his church. Vrouw Leisler accepted the courtesy with gratitude, and on the following Lord’s Day took Hester with her to the morning service.

The interior of the building reminded them of their own church at home, with its octagon pulpit fetched over from Holland, its stoves perched upon stilts, its narrow, straight - backed pews, and its hell-rope dangling in the middle aisle. Two features combined to give it an air of cheerfulness, wanting to the rather gloomy sanctuary of Dominie Selyns: the bright blue paint which tinted the ceiling and gallery, and the memorial window of the Van Rensselaers, which illuminated the northeast corner.

Seated in a wall-pew, their strange faces were an object of easy scrutiny to most of the congregation. Schooled, however, by severe experience to composure under public notice, they took refuge in rapt attention to the service.

But human nerves and muscles are rebellious; it must be a strict guard they will not run; and so it chanced that Hester, opening her eyes, calm, with devout attention, at the end of the long prayer, turned them unconsciously upon a striking personage sitting near at hand across the aisle. She started, and barely stifled an outcry. Despite every effort at self - control, her agitation showed clearly in her face. Her first look of startled astonishment quickly gave place to one of painful and guilty confusion under the cold, searching glance her incautious movement had brought upon her.

Nothing was more natural than that Madam Van Cortlandt, born Gertryd Schuyler, should be visiting her old home. To Hester, knowing nothing of the cause, and profoundly occupied with a certain problem not yet definitely settled, the lady’s sudden apparition seemed of special and threatening significance.

The long service passed in a series of sounds and movements signifying nothing. Not until, freed from the homeward-thronging congregation, Hester found herself answering at random her mother’s strictures upon the sermon, did she quite recover her composure.

This little incident, thrown in but as a straw to show the current, had a result out of all proportion to its seeming importance. It is curiously significant of Hester’s mental state that this simple appearance of Steenie’s mother should have had the effect of quite unsettling her; of violently turning her aside from the comfortable conviction towards which she had been fast gravitating, and setting her again at work upon the old problem.

As, however, driven by a restless feeling, she went roaming again to get space to think in, as she listened daily to her mother’s and Mary’s reminiscences, insensibly the old influences did their work, and slowly, gradually, brought back her routed peace.

Meantime, the dead monotony of life in the frontier town, which had long since showed its effect upon her younger sister’s spirits, began to tell upon her own. Cut off from Catalina’s affectionate companionship, far from the bustling metropolis, out of reach of friends with whom, all her life, she had been in daily communication, ostracized by the community in which they lived, social life seemed reduced well-nigh to its lowest terms.

The one great distraction was reading Cobus’s letters. The days on which they came were marked by a feverish excitement. Filled as they were with the bustle and stir of London life, with glimpses of court splendor, with accounts of the plots, machinations, or open hostility of their enemies, and with evidences of the slow but certain progress of their great cause, what wonder that they were read with breathless interest, that they were re-read and read again, and discussed point by point for weeks afterwards in family conclave !

But for these, one day was as like as possible to another. It was almost a relief, one morning, when old Congo came in and asked for leave to go to the Pingster feast. Hester and Francina exhausted their ingenuity in tricking the old man out, and he went off with a fine strut, fluttering his ribbons, and charging them not to fail to join the crowd of lookers-on at Pingster Hill.

In Congo’s absence, Hester went, that afternoon, to answer a knock at the door.

“ You ! ”

She stepped back into the shadow of the doorway to hide the blush caused by her own joyous outcry, while Barent’s beaming gratification at this unexpected welcome was somewhat dampened by the look of chill demureness with which, the next moment, she bade him come in.

By the rest of the family he was received in the heartiest way. Aside from the fact that he was Cobus’s friend and a special favorite of her late husband, he was endeared to Vrouw Leisler by many kindly offices during the dark days of her affliction. He was doubly welcome now as the bearer of funds collected by Dr. Staats on her account, of household goodies from her daughter Walters, and, more than all, of cheering news regarding their prospects abroad.

More than once, in the telling of all this, the visitor cast a furtive eye at Hester, sitting with grave face over her work; but he was wise enough to show no consciousness of her growing interest in the rapid cross-fire of question and answer, until at last, quite forgetting herself, she was led on to take an active part in it.

He went home to his own family for the night, and they parted quite in the old way, without consciousness on her part. Next morning, when he appeared, she was about setting forth with Francina to visit the Pingster feast. He joined them as a matter of course, explaining, as they went along, his own great delight in the festival when a child, and his intimate knowledge of the vicinity and its ceremonies.

It was the second and most important day of the festival, which usually lasted a week. All along the way the air was filled with the holiday clamor of groups of children, both white and black, under the care of some gray-haired old aunty or buxom young wench, all alike bedizened with cheap jewelry and gay streamers, and decked out with branches of lilac and cherry blossoms.

Arrived at the hill, now long since swept away by the leveling spirit of a later day, they found the grounds laid out in the form of an oblong square, surrounded on three sides by rude booths and tents, and open only at the eastern end for entrance and exit. Here, given over to the frolic spirit of the hour, swarmed the whole slave population of the town, together with a plentiful sprinkling of Indians, feathered and blanketed, otherwise easily to he distinguished by their stolid gravity amid the effervescent jollity of the negroes, like notes of discord in music artfully put in to accentuate the harmony.

Pausing before the entrance to the grounds, Barent, with a sly twinkle in his eye, said they must by no means go in until they had exhausted the outlying features of the spectacle. Whereupon he led them around to the rear of the booths, where were several side-shows in active operation. Before one tent, a negro, heating a drum loudly, advertised the tricks of a conjurer ; in the next a dancing-bear was performing to a tune ground out by a monkey on a hurdygurdy ; while in a third a two-headed pig was exhibited as the greatest living attraction of the age.

Their cicerone’s evident delight in these wonders showed that he had by no means outgrown his boyish tastes. Indeed, the girls might have had hard work to drag him away but for a sudden shout winch arose from the grounds, proclaiming something of interest in that direction.

“ Haste ! haste ! ” he exclaimed eagerly. “ ’T is the king, — the Pingster king! ”

By dint of running they arrived at the entrance just in time to witness the approach of his majesty. No Roman conqueror in triumphal car ever bore himself with loftier port. Few, indeed, among mere conquerors and potentates have been so blessed by kindly nature, or furnished forth in greater pomp of awe-striking haberdashery, withal, than was the Pingster king.

A gold-laced cocked hat was perched upon his snow-white head ; his tall, spare figure was draped in a scarlet coat, which hung to his very heels, while his buckskin breeches, blue stockings, and silverbuckled shoes flashed in and out as his wide-flapping coat-skirts yielded to his stately tread.

Loud cries rent the air; his loyal subjects, indeed, nearly shouted themselves hoarse in salvos of welcome, as the king strode on and took his place at the upper end of the square.

Motioning to his aids, he gave orders for the revels to begin. Amidst a hush of expectation a solitary musician came forward and stationed himself near the royal seat. He was furnished with a grotesque instrument called an eel-pot, which looked like a big hollow wooden cask covered by a tightly drawn sheepskin. Although not at all an impressive-looking instrument, the eel-pot, in the hands of its skilled performer, speedily showed orchestral resources quite adequate to the occasion.

At a sign from the king, the musician, an agile young negro, leaped astride his instrument, and, beating with his naked hands upon the sounding sheepskin, sang in cadences, now dolefully prolonged like the wind soughing in the tree-tops, now tense, sharp, and ringing like a dithyrambic chorus, the uncouth refrain, — “ Hi-a bomba bomba.”

Old eyes glistened and dusky bosoms swelled again with remembrances of the wild rhythm of youthful dances on Guinean plain or Loango shore. A drumming of feet, a waving of hands, a nodding of the head, and a swaying of the whole body were the early symptoms of a purely physical intoxication, a nerve delirium, which this strange music speedily produced in these susceptible tropical organizations.

Suddenly, the king, seizing a buxom wench in his arms, set off in a swift course about the open space which had been cleared for dancing. Directly a score of waiting couples followed suit. With long, dizzying whirl they went, with high skip and jump, with picked and fantastic steps, each and every movement seeming to adapt itself without difficulty to the resounding “ Hi-abomha bomba.” Round and round, up and down, back and forth, to and fro, in swift and swifter course the dancers flew, filled by the pursuing “ Hi-a bomba bomba ” with a supernal vigor, with a wild abandon rising by degrees to true bacchanalian frenzy, and culminating in utter physical exhaustion.

The spectacle was not new to any of them ; and Hester, after a little, growing weary, turned to go, but Francina, glad of any diversion in their humdrum life, wanted to stay. Accordingly, she was left, in charge of Congo, while Hester and Barent sauntered away towards home.

Passing the fort, they loitered along Jonkers Street to the corner of Pearl. There, looking down the quiet, little byway, they caught a glimpse of the smiling outer world through the open city gate at the end of the street.

The junker stopped, and with a wistful look at Hester expressed a wish to visit some of his old boyish haunts in the woods and fields. To his unbounded surprise she quietly assented.

He studied her askance as they walked along, and any undue elation he may have felt presently abated. With the new tone of kindliness and easy-going companionship she had adopted there appeared again the old trait of unconsciousness, the habit of talking to him as if thinking aloud. His look of humble appreciation even for this cavalier treatment had a touch of pathos, and despite her wandering attention he went on patiently recounting his homely tales of boyish pranks and gambols connected witli well-known spots, as they passed them by.

After a long walk they came to the river, and upon a high bank overlooking the windings of the noble stream sat down to take breath. Here the fancy seized Hester to ask about her friends in New York and talk about their old life there, whereupon by and by it came out that Barent had no thought of going back.

With a languid word of surprise very significant of her interest in the matter, she asked the reason.

“ Things are no longer as they were, yonder,” he answered simply; “ there is little chance there nowadays for one like me.”

“ How like you ? ”

“ With no fortune or hope of inheritance.”

“ Industry may supply the lack.”

“ And no gifts of nature.”

“ Men make shift oftentimes to get on without them,” she answered, letting the self-accusation pass unchallenged in a way so pointed that nothing but the junker’s triple-plated armor of modesty saved him from mortification.

“ One must have strong friends there, and I have none.”

“ How then made you such good advance as it seemed at first? ”

“ Because of your father.”

She started at the unexpected answer.

“ ’T was he pushed me on. He was ever a good friend to me.”

Oddly enough, her face grew troubled while listening to this generous tribute.

“But if he had lived he would have found me out. He held me at more than I am worth. Ah,” sighing, “ far more he did, and treated me as he might a son.”

A flush crept over the listener’s face, and the gathering cloud deepened and settled there. After some minutes of silence she stole a look at her companion ; he was absorbed in his reminiscences. Whatever emotions had been awakened by his words, it was plain he had spoken them in all simplicity.

For a long time they sat thus, he talking on in his quiet fashion, and she studying, as it seemed, with a new interest every detail of his ugly face and graceless figure.

“ But what better hope have you of doing something in this out-of-the-world corner ? ” she asked, breaking the silence at last with a blunt question.

“ I can go on here with my father’s handicraft; I am well skilled in it now. He is old and much broken, and has need of help.”

“ So ! ”

“ I can be of comfort, too, to my mother and the young ones whiles they are in need of guidance ; ’t is all I am like to be good for.”

The calm patience of the speaker’s tone and his air of unconscious resignation seemed in some way to touch his hearer. She looked afflicted, and, rising, she demanded to be conducted home.

If heretofore Barent had been puzzled in his relations with Hester, he was thrown into perfect bewilderment by her later demeanor. For many days after their walk, she treated him with an attention and consideration approaching tenderness. The astonished junker rubbed his eyes. His own attitude had been steadfastly maintained, — a simple kindliness, a familiarity without presumption. Evidently he had accepted as final that answer spoken long ago in the graveyard, and no word or look had since escaped him showing any hope of its amendment; but now as day by day he was accorded a more cordial welcome, was greeted with a smile instead of the old grave or indifferent salutation, as he was even at times chided for absence or tardiness when he failed to appear daily and regularly, long-choked-up sources of emotions showed signs of freshening life. There were evidences of a deep stir within him. His aspect of patient resignation gave place to a wistful look, — a look of hoping and fearing, a look of trembling anticipation.

In this mood, no word or movement of Hester’s but seemed to him of significance ; after every interview he puzzled in his plodding way over her speeches and her silences, not always with success. He was destined to further mystification before enlightenment.

One day, at his request, she went for a sail on the river, Francina accompanying them. Whether exhilarated by the unwonted exercise, by the cool bracing air, or the beauty of the scene, Hester showed herself unusually light-hearted.

Barent, seated at the helm, watched her with undisguised delight. In the flood-tide of her hilarity she went the length of rallying him.

“ It is clear to me now why you would forsake New York and come to make your home here in the wilderness.”

“ How is that ? ”

See him, Francina ! See the rogue ! How innocent he is, is not he ? Well, well ! ”

“ Out with it, — come ! ”

“ Would one now ever suspect him ? Ah, how oft and often have I stood in need of such assurance ! Mark it, Francina ! You may never see the like again ! ”

“ Come, now, I say,” pleaded the helmsman, with a foolish look, “ I cry for mercy. I feel like a very villain, and am pricking all over with a sense of guiltiness, set upon with such sharp looks. What is it you have found out ? What are you at ? ”

“ ’T is no wonder, sure, you feel guilty.”

“ I redden only that I am treated like a rogue ; as I live, I can think of nothing done to be ashamed of.”

“ I said not you should be ashamed.”

“ So !”

“ Oh, no, that will you not, I ‘ll be bound, for all you have been so sly.”

“ I follow you only as one gropes in the dark.”

“ There is light enough for others to see, never fear.”

“ Will you out with it or no ? ”

“ Francina, what think you would make a man come away from New York to live in the wilderness ? ”

“ I cannot think of anything,” returned Francina simply, and with only a half-interest in the talk, “ unless it be a sweetheart.”

“ There, there ! it was not I that said it; ’t is noted of all the world, you see ! ”

The junker blushed crimson, but the beaming, flattered look he cast upon Hester showed how much more the fact of the accusation than the substance of it had to do with his confusion.

In this merry mood the party brought up to the dock at the foot of Handelaer Street, and, filing through the gate, found the town in a tumult.

The bell in the little church was ringing with might and main, guns were thundering from the fort, while Jonkers Street was thronged with citizens hurrying to the Stadthuys.

Inquiring the meaning of the commotion, they learned that an express had just arrived with great news from New York.

Following in the wake of the crowd, they climbed the hill, and soon found themselves wedged in among a mass of excited people who filled the narrow space within the fort. The secret was soon out: Lord Bellomont. the new governor, had arrived some weeks before in New York, and his long-delayed commission was being read from the Stadthuys steps.

However much the general public may have been startled at this news, the Leislers and their friends, long before forewarned, had awaited it with ill-disguised impatience.

Naturally, Barent, who knew well how much this event imported to the family, broke forth into congratulations, under his breath, to the sisters as soon as they got clear of the crowd.

“ ‘T is great news, — great news. ’T is the beginning of the end. At last we shall have justice. At last there is good hope you will get your rights again.”

In the midst of his speech they arrived at the corner of the little side-street which led to his father’s house.

“ I pray you,” said Hester, breaking in abruptly upon his eloquence, “ do not give yourself the trouble of going with us any further. We are greatly obliged for the favor of the sail, and shall hope to find some means of giving you a like pleasure.”

Her face was pale, her tone almost hard, her manner constrained to the last degree. The old bovine look crept into the junker’s face as he listened, and he looked as if benumbed by a sudden blow.

Edwin Lassetter Bynner.