The Begum's Daughter

XXXII.

THE following letter from Madam Van Cortlandt to her husband explains itself: —

ALBANY, 10th May, 1698. MY BELOVED HUSBAND, — I am much concerned to know how affairs go on since B-t’s accession. His l’dshp’s coming, if all that’s said be true, is not likely to make for the benefit of some we wot of. There’s an end once and for all of a certain junker’s chances. What next is to be undertaken we will consider of when we meet. The plan writ of in my last with such commendation, that he come hither to bear brother John company in his forthcoming embassy to the Five Nations, must no longer be thought of; for only last Lord’s Day morning, as I sat at ease in church, who should pop up before me but that Leisler hussy! and upon inquiry I find the whole brood is settled down here.

Make shift rather to send him down to Lysbeth’s for two or three weeks’ shooting, until we hit upon a sufficient pretext for dispatching him to Holland. . . .

Your faithful, loving wife,

GERTRYD.

It was in accordance with the hint above given that Steenie was forthwith posted off to Vlacktebos. He received the hint from his father with instant favor. He was a zealous sportsman, Seawanacky abounded in game, there was nothing to keep him at home, and the suggestion of a possible voyage to Holland upon business of moment was a prospect tangible and alluring enough to rob the future of vagueness, life of aimlessness, and justify present idling.

Cousin Lysbeth welcomed him with her usual heartiness, but directly became aware of a change in him which perplexed her not a little. What had come over the ingenuous junker ? Where had he picked up that hard, disagreeable way of talking, and that laugh without a touch of mirth to it? Shrewd as she was, the good huysvrouw could never be quite sure whether he was in jest or earnest; and for the matter of that, many of his jests — if they were jests — she did not at all understand.

“ So we have a new governor, it seems,” she said, as they sat on the stoop after supper.

“ I believe you, cousin, and we made the welkin ring at his coming.”

“ How so ? ”

“ Nothing less than four full barrels of gunpowder could avail to bruit the matter to the world.”

“And all well enough ; ’t is fitting he should he received with honor,” remarked the dame, who had an hereditary but well-regulated love for parade.

“Humph, yes ! In that respect’t was small measure. Nay, as I think on it, ’t was niggardly. They should have burned the other two. Would you believe, now, they had two good barrels left, saved with old-granny prudence against an attack by the Indians? To such things are we come! ”

“ But his Excellency is of higher rank, ‘t is said, than any before sent out to us.”

“ So you would have sworn from the banquet; the like was never seen here; only your earls and lordships are born with stomachs for such feasts.”

“ What had they then so fine ? ” asked cousin Lysbeth eagerly, with a true huysvrouw interest.

“ Everything that walks or creeps, or swims or flies, — venison, beef, mutton, pork, veal, lamb, sausages” —

“ Meat to every man’s liking, and none too much for the occasion.”

— “ turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, grouse and quail ” —

“ Ei! ei ! ” exclaimed cousin Lysbeth in protestation.

“ I swear to you ! — was I not one of them? — together with pasties, puddings, cakes without number, and wines without stint.”

“ And how many to eat ? ”

“ Everybody worth counting in the town ; a hundred and fifty at least, —all bowing, and smirking, and lordshiping with might and main, Mayor De Peyster at the head.”

“What manner of man is his Excellency ? ”

“ Not a woman in the land but will say we had never such a governor before.”

“ Humph ! ”

“ For besides that, in stature and port, he outdoes De Peyster himself, he comes dangerously up to Solomon in glory of raiment.”

“ So ? He should make a show in keeping with his office, but ’t is pity if he have no more sense than to overdo the matter.”

“ Sense ! Never fear. You have not more yourself. See what a great opinion I hold of the man. He has a will of his own, too. Heigho! ” He interrupted himself with one of those laughs the honest dame liked not to hear. “ Is it not enough to set a dog laughing, cousin, to see them yonder hugging and cosseting, when in three weeks they will be snarling and spitting like cats ? ”

“ For me,” said Vrouw Wickoff gravely, “ I see no laughing matter in it; t is time we had an end of quarreling and bickering, and some heed was given to the good of the province.”

“ ‘The good of the province’! ” repeated the junker, with another laugh, louder and harder than before. “ What, pray, mean you by that fine phrase, cousin ? What is the good of the province but the good of Claes and Rip and Jan many times multiplied ? Who cares for Claes and Rip and Jan singly? Not a mother’s son but themselves. See you? ’T is every one for himself. The province is but a name which everybody writes on his banner to serve his turn.”

The dame did not answer directly. She sat for several minutes studying her kinsman as his roving eyes gave her opportunity.

“ I hope, at any rate,” she began after a while, “ his Excellency will let bygones be bygones, and rake up no old bones of contention.”

“Why, know you not ‘t is for that precisely he has come ? ”

“ What ? ”

“To put down the pirates.”

“ ‘T is high time, too.”

“ And put up the Leislerians.”

“Ei?”

“ For which these worthy merchants who have been feasting him are expected to supply the money.”

“ God grant they may never be such fools.”

The junker laughed long and loud.

“ See you there, who would be bickering now ? Ei, cousin Lysbeth, ’t is as I thought; were you a man, there ‘d be no such roistering bickerer in the land.”

“ ’T is no bickering to make a stand against letting loose a lot of vipers upon us.”

“ Why should they not be let loose, tell me ? Why should they not have their ups after being trod so long in the mire ? ”

“ ’T is the place for them,” retorted Vrouw Wickoff stoutly ; “they ’re not to be trusted.”

A look of demure gratification gleamed in Steenie’s eye, as he watched his sober kinswoman take fire.

“ Give them power again and they ‘d cast the whole province into an uproar,” she continued, quite unconscious of being baited.

“They are all of one flesh and blood ; ‘t is but fair they should have their chance with the rest,” went on the junker, casting about for material to keep up the flame.

“ Go get you to bed ! ” cried cousin Lysbeth, suddenly awaking to the situation, “and to-morrow let me find you in better sense ! ”

The first week of Steenie’s stay in Vlacktebos passed without any event of note. He spent the days tramping the country with his dog and gun, to such good purpose that his cousin’s larder was supplied to overflowing. It was, perhaps, on account of this embarrassment of riches that she suggested sharing his gifts with the begum, in return for her kindness of long ago.

Accordingly, on his way home one day he stopped at the Staats farm with a bagful of birds. The begum was not at home, so, leaving his offering with a civil message, the junker turned away. Hardly had he reached the highway, however, when he saw the lady approaching. Upon hearing his errand she overwhelmed him with thanks, and, despite his excuses and bedraggled condition, by sheer insistence brought him back with her to supper.

At the entrance to the driveway she dismissed her palanquin, and loitered under the tall trees upon a pretext of pointing out the view.

“Here, if it please you, Mynheer, upon this knoll — so — looking to the west. There is nothing, I suppose, stirring in town ? ”

“Nothing of moment,” he answered, busied with the view.

“ T is strange, with the coming of a new governor.”

“ True, the new governor, — I quite forgot him.”

“ ‘T is because he goes on with things where his late Excellency dropped them,” continued the lady, attentively studying his averted face.

“ Not he.”

“ So ? ”

Directly the questioner’s eye darkened with interest, but she turned away with excellent control, and occupied herself with the scenery.

“ A little further to the right, Mynheer. The doctor says ’t is the best point for a view in all New Utrecht. Note the cliff yonder, glittering in the sunset; ‘t is like the glories of the TajMahal ‘T is thought, then, his lordship will have other views than Governor Fletcher ? ”

“ As different as dawn from dark, so goes the report.”

“ Yonder faint line you think the sky, Mynheer; ’t is no sky, but the sea itself. When the sun is overhead ’t is as blue as the sapphire on my hand.”

Steenie, perhaps thinking of the last time he saw the sea in New Utrecht, was silent.

“ What, then, called so loud for amendment in Governor Fletcher’s doings ? ”

The junker replied with his new laugh, and his listener naturally stared.

“Pardon, madam, your question is so innocent. Know you not New York is become a den of thieves under him ? The merchants are all turned pirates and the officials are hand in glove with the rogues, till there’s not an honest man left in authority to enforce his Majesty’s noble Acts of Trade.”

The new note struck by her visitor, accompanied by a certain slight recklessness of manner, clearly fell upon the lady’s ear as a discord, for she flashed upon him a searching look.

“ What think you of the story of Madam Fletcher’s jewels ? ” he went on.

“ Ei ? ” cried the begum, with an outburst of curiosity, all guards forgotten.

“ Her late lamented Majesty, ‘t is said, had nothing like them.”

“ I know nothing of all that! ” interjected madam breathlessly.

“ How comes it, tell me, they look so like to certain gems taken by pirate Tew from the Grand Mogul himself in the Indian Ocean ? ” asked the junker, with a look of mingled mockery and insinuation.

The begum did not speak, but she gazed at him as if every feature and limb had turned into bristling interrogation points.

“ Again, how came Madam Bayard with that wondrous diamond, once worn by an Arabian princess, foully murdered, ’t is said, on the high seas ? ”

“ What say you ? ”

“ Let Minvielle too explain, if he can, the chest of Arabian gold pieces found under his bed, and Adolphe Philipse why he steals out in a ketch, under cover of night, to meet his father’s merchantmen coming in from Madagascar.”

Steenie laughed again in a way which seemed to bewilder and irritate his hearer.

“ How think you now? ” he went on, not blind to the impression he was making ; “ has not his new Excellency something to do to drive out the rogues and bring back those dear Leislerians ? ”

“ He dare not venture upon that! ”

“ Why, know you not they are the only honest men left in the province? ”

“ What huysvrouw’s tales are these, Mynheer?” cried the lady, with a sudden flash of anger.

“ Such as are flying about the Stadthuys and buzzing in his new Excellency’s ears. — So! this, then, is the view you speak of ? ’T is indeed a fine prospect of the land, but I see no water ; perhaps ’t is because the sun blinds my eyes I cannot make it out.”

The listener paid no heed to the attempted digression.

“ And will he have new councilors ? ” “ Trust him for that!

“Men of his own mind, men of the mind to bring back those ” — she choked over the obnoxious word — “ those others to power ? ”

“ Assuredly ! Think you he would consort a minute with the rogues Fletcher had at his board ? ” questioned the junker, with another laugh.

Insensibly pressing closer to her guest, madam lowered her high-pitched voice to a more confidential key.

“ What say you ? He will give back to the vrouw and her children their goods and lands ? ” ’T is so said.”

“And take away — if he can — the guilt and disgrace ? ”

“ God knows! ”

Struck by the speaker’s sudden sternness of tone, the begum stood looking at him with kindling eyes. There followed a moment of silence, in which she seemed busied with the form of her next question. Her trouble was lost. A cloud of dust arose on the highway, a sound of heavy trampling was heard, and the next minute a herd of young cattle came rushing and snorting down the road, with heads tossing and tails standing straight in air.

With a loud cry of terror the begum darted off towards the house, her soft draperies floating backward in the breeze of her own making.

Calling out vainly to reassure her, Steenie faced about to cover her retreat. But the danger was already over, and he stood staring at the cause of the stampede. Mounted on a colt, without saddle or bridle, her cap gone, her long braids hanging half unraveled down her back, Catalina galloped past in the wake of the flying cattle, followed afar off by a panting negro.

Steenie jumped upon a boulder to look after them. The disheveled rider soon overtook the herd, and dashing through their midst headed them back. The negro, meantime, had come up and opened a gate, and by dint of dodging and much shouting the cattle were soon all driven into the lane leading to the barn-yard. Thereupon dismounting and turning her colt in after them, the breathless young hoiden sauntered up towards the house.

Coming unexpectedly upon the junker, who stood waiting at the entrance to the driveway, she cast a swift glance downward at her disordered dress, and courtesying in some confusion stammered, —

“I — I knew not you were here, Mynheer.”

Steenie did not answer ; he stood noting in silent amazement the physical development which had taken place in the speaker since their last meeting.

“ If you come to wait upon my mother, she is within,” continued Catalina, with a movement of impatience under the scrutiny.

” No— I —yes, I have seen her.”

“ So! ”

Another minute passed in awkward silence, the visitor still absorbed.

“ bid you good-night, then, Mynheer! ” cried the girl, courtesying again, and starting at a round pace for the house.

“ Pray you — I — Catalina, will you run away ? ”

The fugitive halted with evident reluctance.

“ I am bidden to eat supper with you.”

“ You are welcome,” she said, constraining herself with ill grace to the duties of hospitality.

They turned and walked towards the house, Steenie’s eyes still busy, and not without cause. With her tints all heightened and her limbs pliant from her late exercise, the girl’s whole person seemed marked by a physical brilliancy not to be overlooked.

“ Pray where learned you that trick of riding? ” he asked, awaking suddenly to a sense of his responsibility for some part of the conversation.

“ That colt is not broken yet; he cannot abide any sort of gear,” she explained briefly.

“Your mother was in terror of the cattle, and ran away.”

“ Yes, she dreads all beasts with horns.”

Steenie hemmed and hawed. For some reason not quite clear, he felt the contagion of his companion’s constraint, and strove in vain to lift the conversation from the dead level of formality.

“I have come down for some shooting.”

“ So ? ” And am visiting at my cousin’s.”

“ Vrouw Wickoff?”

“ Yes. I met your mother upon the highway, when she would nothing but that I should stay, despite my sorry plight.”

“ She could not do less, it seems.”

The begum stood on the stoop awaiting them; quite unconsciously she relieved the situation in a moment.

“ Catalina, you have given me a great terror; never drive again those mad cattle ! Ah! ” she cried, with a shudder,

“ I tremble yet here at my heart to think of it. Mynheer, pardon that I left you.

I was beside myself. You would order your dress before eating ? There is a servant waiting within to attend you.”

But a sudden impulse had seized Catalina. Turning quickly to their guest, she almost took his hand in her eagerness.

“ Oh, Mynheer ” —

“ Pardon ! ”

“ You come lately from New York ? ”

“ Yes,” murmured Steenie, somewhat taken aback by this unaccountable change of mood.

“You have seen her, then! Where is she ? Is she well ? How does she look ? ”

“ She! ”

“ Catalina ! Catalina ! ” nervously interposed the begum, “ Mynheer has to make himself ready for supper, your own dress is to be thought of, the table waits.”

The junker made excellent use of the moment’s diversion. A dawning look of consternation upon his face was quietly checked, and he answered calmly if a little stiffly.

“You mean Hester: I hope she is well.”

“ Hope ! ”

Catalina’s honest stare of amazement was more trying than her question.

“She is not in New York ; she is in Albany. I have had no business to take me thither ” — The explanation was interrupted by the begum, who, putting the questioner unceremoniously aside with a profound courtesy to her guest, motioned for him to go.

Deeply grateful at the moment for the interference, it did not occur to the junker until long afterwards that the mother’s behavior was somewhat peculiar.

When later they all met in the parlor, the begum explained that her husband was absent from home upon business, and herself led the way to the supperroom and did the honors of the table. Meantime, she held the conversation strictly within bounds, and prevented any further outburst from her daughter by doing all the talking herself.

Steenie’s vacant look showed that he gave but little heed to what she said, and it is doubtful, indeed, if the lady herself could have given a very clear subsequent account of the drift of her own talk, so differently busied were her thoughts and tongue. Later in the evening, however, she was brought to a sharp recognition of time, place, and circumstance by a chance remark of Catalina’s in answer to their guest’s parting greeting.

“ I know not,” he said, “ how much longer I may be in Vlacktebos, but I hope at any rate to see you soon again.”

“ There is good prospect of it, too, for we may go back to New York to live, now that father is made one of Lord Bellomont’s councilors.”

Lingering upon the stoop after their visitor had gone, Catalina’s eye fell by chance upon an unfamiliar object lying near her on the bench. Taking it in her hand, she discovered it to be a powder-horn, heavily mounted in silver and bearing the initials “ S. V. C.” Starting up, she looked eagerly along the highway with the purpose of recalling the owner, but his tall figure had already disappeared.

“ Mother ! ” she called, turning at the same time to go in.

Receiving no answer, her first impulse evidently gave way to a later. She did not repeat her call, but stood hesitating, one foot upon the threshold, looking at the object in her hand.

Presently a step was heard in the hall. With a quick movement she thrust the horn under her apron, and went in “ with an air of nothing.”

An hour later, as she sat in the broad window-seat in the seclusion of her own room, she drew forth the bauble and studied the chasing upon the silver bands, holding it the while tenderly in her hand, and polishing it with her handkerchief in a caressing way.

After a little, with apparent forgetfulness she dropped it in her lap, and sat with her head resting on her hand, gazing at the fading tints in the west and the lighting up of the stars, until the tenuous silvery peal of Dominie Varick’s far-off church - bell came floating over the meadows, a warning curfew. She arose at the familiar signal, forgetful of the treasure in her lap, which fell thumping to the floor.

With a quick look of remorse as for an injury done to a sentient creature, she sprang to pick it up, wiped it gently, and with a sudden impulse carried it to her lips. Directly she realized what she had done. A hot flush swept over her face, she threw the horn violently to the floor, and darting across the room cast back over her shoulder a startled, guilty look, as if under arraignment before her own accusing conscience.

Next morning, on going down-stairs, she sought her mother without delay, and handing over the horn said gravely,

“ Here is something Mynheer left behind him.”

“ ’T is something he needs, too,” said the begum, studying it curiously; “ he will think it lost; you cannot do better than ride over speedily and take it back to him.”

“ I will do nothing of the sort! ” cried the daughter, in a sudden flutter.

The matron, opening wide her small black eyes, stared after the retreating maiden, and thereupon spent a good half hour puzzling over this trifling circumstance, as she paced to and fro upon the sanded floor.

Before she could take further action in the matter, however, there came a mounted servant with a message from Vrouw Wickoff, begging the begum and Catalina to do her the honor of supping with her the following day.

Without consulting her daughter, the begum returned an elaborate message accepting the invitation.

The old negro charged with the duty of repeating this grandiloquence to his mistress looked aghast, but, disdaining to ask either repetition or explanation, hied him home, and recited to Vrouw Wickoff an unintelligible jargon which drew from Steenie a shout of laughter.

The supper-party was a shrewd and characteristic move on the part of cousin Lysbeth. Having heard from her cousin that the Staatses might soon move back again to the city, she straightway bethought her that by one timely and welldirected stone she could bring down a small flock of birds, to wit: redeem her reputation from the taint of unneighborliness by a parting touch of hospitality ; do honor to her kinsman’s visit; avail herself — no small consideration in the case of so remarkable a personage as the begum — of his services in entertaining; and lastly — whisper it not beyond the pantry wall! — put to good use the uncommon delicacies with which her larder was stored.

When told that she was expected to make one of the supper-party. Catalina for a moment looked panic-stricken and declared she would not go. Waiting for the consternation to pass, her mother asked in the quietest way an artful question.

“ Why, then, my daughter, are you in such fear to meet Vrouw Wickoff ? ”

Catalina was silent; she saw the alternative awaiting her disclaimer. With a burst of resentment at the covert insinuation, she cried indignantly, —

“ I care nothing for Vrouw Wickoff! I do not care for anybody. 1 will go.”

“ It is well.”

Cousin Lysbeth’s supper was worthy of her reputation: the napery was of home weaving and bleaching; tlie ware was brought from Holland by her grandmother ; the silver was of honest Dutch handiwork ; and as for the fare, each separate viand had been cooked under her own critical eye, from the partridges roasted on a spit before the coals to the delicious izer-cookjes, each branded in the middle with a big £1 S,” her maiden initial, by the baking-iron brought to her husband’s house as a part of her dowry.

The begum had honored the occasion with fitting splendor. Not only was her own toilet rich and elaborate, but her interference in Catalina’s had invested the uncouth Dutch holiday garb with a touch of Oriental elegance. This, instead of the usual crude colors and violent contrasts, consisted of a dull red camlet petticoat richly wrought with Indian embroidery, relieved by a pale blue jacket of softest cashmere ; while, instead of clumsy gold ornaments, the rich tints of her glowing eyes and sunburned cheeks were softened by a double row of gleaming pearls wound closely about the throat.

The anxious mother, thinking perhaps to forestall invidious criticism upon her daughter, whispered Vromv Wickoff at the first opportunity that Catalina was grown so shy since coming to the country that she had much ado to bring her. To her measureless amazement, however, she presently found herself stultified by the young woman’s very unusual behavior. Far from being timid, the latter showed herself audacious. V ithout waiting to be addressed, she boldly accosted the company, she chattered like a magpie, she interrupted Vromv Wickoff without compunction, she flatly contradicted her mother, she rallied the astonished junker unmercifully, she paid no heed to anything said to her, and effectually prevented anybody else from talking.

The discomfited mother, affecting not to notice this odd behavior, strove in vain to divert the attention of her hostess. The trouble was, she could not divert her own. With her thoughts wholly fixed upon Catalina, her random words were without coherence. Vromv Wickoff made no pretense of heeding them.

“ What think you, Mynheer? ” began Catalina as soon as they had exchanged greetings. “ When it was discovered you had left your powder-horn behind, mother would have had me come over straightway to restore it.”

And why did you not ? ”

“ Why did I not ? Why did I not? ” interposing a little scornful laugh. “ Think you I would ride so far upon so slight a matter ? ”

“ ’T is no slight matter to make me lose a day’s sport.”

“ So-o ! ” she exclaimed, with an almost insolent inflection.

“ Besides, if you had come, I should have had the pleasure of seeing you.”

“ I had liefer do something to pleasure myself.”

“ It should have yielded you some satisfaction to procure me so great a boon.”

“ ‘T is a fine speech, that, but why waste so much breath without meaning? ”

“ I see you would draw me on to an oath to confirm it.”

“ Not I, indeed ; I would have nothing sworn to but what is worth while.”

“ By what means am I to convince you ? ”

“ One deed is better than a thousand words,” returned the reckless girl, with a toss of the head and a bravado smile.

“ So ! Then shall I come to wait upon you to-morrow morning.”

There was a passing look of consternation, a quick rally, and the forced smile turned to a nervous laugh as she answered, —

“ You had best make sure I am to be at home,”

The begum, left alone by Vrouw Wickoff’s withdrawal to give a supervising touch to the supper-table, listened aghast as the conversational ball was thus tossed back and forth between the young people.

“ You may tell me now, then,” continued Steenie, with a look of amusement.

“ Indeed shall I not! ”

“ Then must I needs take the risk.”

Further talk was prevented by the arrival of Dominie Varick and the announcement of supper.

Next day, Dr. Staats, who had come home on a flying visit, took his wife back to town with him to make some preparations for their forthcoming removal.

Catalina, left alone with the children and servants, wandered about the house in an aimless way, anxiously studying the movement of the shadows on the dial, or from her chamber window scanning at brief intervals the distant highway. She became more and more uneasy as the hours rolled by. At dinnertime she had reached such a state of suspense that she sat pushing about the dishes and drumming on the cloth, unable to swallow a mouthful.

Hardly had she risen from the table, when a man came with a note announcing that Mynheer Van Cortlandt had been called to Breuckelen on some business, which would prevent his coming to pay the promised visit.

An odd mixture of relief and chagrin showed itself in the reader’s face as she finished the note. Her suspense, at least, was ended; she wasted no more time peering from the window, but, taking some needle-work, repaired to the orchard, where she disposed herself upon a shaded bench under the apple-trees, her favorite resort on a warm afternoon.

Her little fit of industry soon passed ; her work fell unheeded from her lap, while eyes and thoughts were given up to reading and re-reading the bit of a note which she drew from her pocket.

To one in such oblivion the hours steal by on muffled feet, and so to Catalina the afternoon passed like a dream. The sun was already setting when, upon hearing a faint stir near at hand, she raised her head, and beheld the writer of the note himself standing before her. With a futile effort at concealment, she thrust the crumpled paper in her bosom, rose quickly from her seat, and, all her hardihood of yesterday flown, stood dumb and trembling before him.

“ I am here at last, you see.”

But instead of a welcome, the amazed junker had for his pains only a confused impression of burning blushes, eyes filled with tears, and a vanishing figure.

XXXIII.

A week or more after the supperparty, some social impulse prompted Steenie to send up and invite his old friend Cornelis De Peyster down for a day’s shooting.

Cousin Lysbeth was captivated with their visitor. His name was well known and honored in the province. Tales of his family’s wealth, moreover, and of the state maintained at the magnificent new mansion in Queen Street had reached the old dame’s ears, and not without effect.

But Cornelis needed no such bolstering. Nature, as if to prove that she had not exhausted her resources of wit and comeliness upon his brothers, doled him out a double-handed measure of each at his birth. The hospitable huysvrouw showed that she well knew the meaning of the phrase “ hungry as a hunter,” by the repast she had ready for the two tired junkers at their home-coming.

Grateful for her bounty, Cornelis crammed the ears of the delighted old woman with alternate compliments and gossip, as they sat at supper. “ News, madam ! the air is filled with it. You know well with what a high hand Bellomont started out; ’t was child’s play to the pitch he is now arrived at. He stops at nothing; he has set the whole town by the ears. He seizes upon ships and cargoes, no matter whose ; charges the highest merchants with piracy; thrusts Bayard, Minvielle, and others as good out of the council in disgrace ; and now outdoes everything yet by giving out that he will annul all grants of government lands made in the memory of man. Think of the panic among the owners ! Rolling in riches to-day, to-morrow they may be beggars. Another breast of duck, Steenie — enough — enough ! I never in my life tasted such cider, Vrouw Wickoff. But as I was saying, his lordship has stirred up a cage of lions, —oh, believe me, he has ! Bayard is already flown to England to lay his grievance before the king, the great land-owners are making ready for battle, when just at this moment, alack for his lordship ! comes news that the famous Captain Kidd has raised the black flag, turned freebooter on his own account, and is robbing and sinking every vessel that comes in his way. Mark you, ’t was Bellomont had him appointed ! Not another morsel, good huysvrouw, unless you would have my death at your door! ”

So happily absorbed were guest and hostess in their gossip that neither noted Steenie’s big eyes and gasp of astonishment.

“ See you now how speedily his lordship’s curses come home to roost! ‘T was well known this villain was his bosom friend. But the worst remains: you would never believe it in a man of his lordship’s birth and breeding; ‘t is incredible, I say, yet none the less true that he has gone over, body and soul, to the Leislerians. So ! you have heard something of that ? Yes, to be sure, Councilor Staats is your neighbor; but has his Excellency’s latest freak perchance come to your ears ? What think you ’t is ? Why, hearing that Parliament has at last taken off the curse of attainder from old Jacob’s progeny, his lordship straightway issues an order that their lands and chattels be restored,— restored, mind you, after all these years when they have been bought and sold over and over again. Oh, there never was such a storm since the deluge. Eh, Steenie, what now ? Your face is the color of a rag; that last pull through the swamp was too much for you.”

But Steenie, without troubling himself to answer this friendly inquiry, arose and stalked out of the room.

Cousin Lysbeth was greatly interested in the discovery that Steenie’s cynical mood, his queer talk and strange laugh, entirely disappeared after his friend’s visit. She was not surprised to see him instead rather pensive and preoccupied. What more natural! He missed that gay, high-hearted junker’s companionship ; she missed it herself ; it had acted upon her like a current of electricity, quickening her circulation and exciting her sensory ganglia. She accordingly sympathized with her cousin, and sang, with proper reserves, the praises of their departed guest.

Steenie listened to all this in silence. One might have thought, indeed, he had heard never a word of cousin Lysbeth’s kindly solace. One might have thought, moreover, that all the birds had flown the land, so empty was the hunter’s pouch, these days, when he slipped it from his stalwart shoulders, on getting home.

At last one morning there arrived a letter from his mother with the news that things were fast getting in trim for his mission to Holland, and that the time of his going had been already fixed.

It proved to be stirring news. He acted like a man just awakened from sleep, and possessed with a feverish desire to make up for long inaction. He seemed hardly able to endure the petty obstacles to his setting forth out of hand. Upon any available wings he would have flown as the bee flies, and left his belongings out of account. But even the best regulated household is at the mercy of events. The horse he usually rode was lame, another had gone on an errand to New Utrecht, the rest were at work in the fields. Cousin Lysbeth, with ready sympathy, went forth herself after one of the field - horses. The junker knew too well the deliberate pace of the good huysvrouw : he knew the difficulties of the way, including a hill and a marsh ; he knew the slow plodding gait of the heavy cart-horse ; knew that it must be baited and reharnessed before starting: and dwelling upon all these points with a too active fancy, he hastily threw his things into a pack, slung it across his shoulder, and without awaiting his kinswoman’s return started forth on foot.

Making his way through the thick woods surrounding Vlacktebos, over the hills beyond, and down through the straggling village of Breuckelen, with its one poor little church planted conspicuously in the middle of the highway, he came at last to the ferry, at the close of day, and was put over in the lumbering little ketch to the other shore.

Here was to be seen no sign of the broil and turmoil Cornelia had told of. The harbor lay shining and waveless as glass, reflecting the gorgeous pageant of sunset, and showing the town with its score of steeples, towers, and windmills turned topsy-turvy in its placid water. Within as without reigned the same unbroken peace. It was the supper-hour, Nature’s breathing-time, when the buzzing, fretful human swarm had gone to hive, and the streets were deserted save for a few sober belated people hurrying to their homes. Lights gleamed from the houses as the junker passed along, and in the gathering gloom the bits of gardens looked cool and dim and shadowy, while odorous shrubs, wafting a neglected fragrance on the air, sealed the spell of perfect peace and repose.

The morrow was Lord’s Day. Like all the world, Steenie went to church. Cornelis’s report was verified. In their old pew sat the Leislers, a reunited family. The junker felt a deep stir within him, a hcart-queasiness which was neither pleasure nor pain, but upheaval. The church, the congregation, the measured tones of the preacher, the swashing of the waves upon the neighboring rock, the distant carol of the songbirds borne in through the open windows, all seemed whelmed and merged in a background, vague, shifting, neutral, on which was projected in magic relief that well-known form, which he studied now as if for the first time, and with an intensity of interest never felt before. A form well known yet new, a face familiar yet not the same. Was the change wholly in the face, or somewhat in him? Perhaps this thought added to his bewilderment. Had the ripening years wrought in him a clairvoyant vision, revealing what lay hidden to the purblind gaze of youth and passion ? Whatever the change in him or her, the same charm still hung about that serene forehead, those steady, clear-gazing eyes; it was with the lower face the ruthless remodeler had been busy, there where the same serenity strove in vain to veil the traces of the relentless strigil.

At the breaking up of the congregation, many old friends gathered about the widow and her children with handshakings and congratulations. It is nobody’s business to insinuate that these worthy folks were not sincere, or that the recent good-fortune of the family had anything to do with the matter, notwithstanding the ironic turn to Cobus’s lip.

Steenie waited his turn. The crowd opened, and Hester stood before him.

The tranquil smile died away on her lips, perhaps on account of the suddenness of the meeting, and a fleeting little look of trouble passed over her face.

It was the wake of a volition. It was as though she had foreseen and prepared herself for this emergency. Her manner was as nearly like the old, free, familiar manner as a conscious imitation can be like reality. The junker himself was constrained. As growth is the distinctive function of all life, it was inevitable that the two should have warped away from their old perfect adjustment. It was like every coming together of friends long separated, each striving to take up and go on with the severed relations, and each groping blindly back from different standpoints for the lost thread.

As they came out upon the greensward before the fort, Steenie unconsciously turned towards the Copake Rocks, their favorite stroll in the old days. Hester hesitated. He looked at her anxiously, as if attaching some peculiar significance to her decision. It was promptly made, and in his favor. They walked along the beaten path by the shore, they clambered over the rocks; visiting all the old nooks and haunts, talking of the recent happy turn of fortune in her family, — of their prospects and plans, of Cobus’s long struggle in England, of their own life in Albany, of the energetic advocacy of their cause by his Excellency, and like topics. At last all this came to an end, like the running down of a clock. Then fell a silence. Each had dreaded it, fought against it, put it off by makeshifts, all the time conscious that it must come. Awkward, painful, terrible, as it became in its indefinite duration, it was the first honest intercourse of the day, — for intercourse it was, as real as any tonguetold commerce of their thoughts.

If, as they sat thus in dumb suspense waiting for the swift spirit to move, all their past had unfolded itself before them like a panorama, which of the two, in the long and varied history, would have found the seed of a single remorse ? Which would have acknowledged in the whole record a deed or thought unfaithful to that spring-time betrothal of so long ago ?

The junker knew that it was for him to speak, and he did speak. As he cleared his throat, a shallop turned the point from the East River, and slowly floated past them just outside the breakers. It had the effect of an intrusion. He waited for it to pass ; then, without turning his head or lifting his eyes from the crisp blue waves dancing before him, he said suddenly, —

“ So our long waiting is at an end. I thought never to have seen the day.”

Receiving no answer, he presently went on : —

“ I thought you cruel, — I will be frank with you, — I had many bitter thoughts of you. It seemed you held me of mean account. It is easier now for me to see that you had some cause for your course. It was perhaps a pride I should have reverenced.”

“ Do not call it pride,” she answered, scarcely audible for huskiness, “ Call it rather duty.”

“ Whatever it be called, it is satisfied ; it need no longer be considered. All you waited for is happily accomplished, and the ordeal is ended.”

“ I know not if it be.”

“ What mean you ? ”

“ ‘T is feared by some among our friends here that his Excellency’s order will not be obeyed, but will be resisted in the courts.”

“ That touches only the gear,” broke in the junker impatiently. “ What has that to do with the matter ? Your father’s memory is vindicated, your name is cleared of taint; ‘t is that you were concerned about.”

A slight flush kindled in Hester’s cheeks at this rebuke, and she looked humiliated.

“I was thinking of my mother,” she murmured apologetically.

“ ’T is time to be thinking of ourselves, if indeed I am any longer worth thinking of in your estimation.”

“ I am sorry to have grieved you ; it was innocently spoken.”

He choked down his bitterness at this meek reply. “ I have forgotten how to make plans,” he went on more gently, “ for happiness, at any rate. Thus far in life all the schemes held dear have come to naught. I believe no longer in any good-fortune. I cannot shake off the dread that it is a dream from which I shall soon awake, to find life colder and drearier than ever.”

“ We have had small cause for joy these late years,” she said vaguely.

“ Nor ever will until you cast off the fetters you have so long worn.”

“ Fetters ? ”

“ Of superstition.”

She flushed, but refrained from speaking.

“ Of mistaken zeal, of devotion to the dead, which has led you into neglect and injustice to the living.”

She sat for a space without remark, as if weighing his words and making allowance for his mood. “ How will it help us now to talk upon that ? ”

“ By way of warning,” he returned quickly.

“I thank my heavenly Father no such call is like to come to me again in this life. If there should ” —

He turned, and waited intently for the conclusion of the sentence.

— “I trust and pray to him I may have strength to do my duty as it is made clear to me,” she concluded firmly.

He rose to his feet, with an angry look, and walked a few steps apart, as if to prevent the answer which rose to his lips.

The brief space for reflection was evidently improved by each.

“ Hester,” he said, coming back to his seat presently, in a calmer mood, “ this is not the way for us to talk. I am at fault. Let us have done with reproaches : they cannot bring us together ; they cannot help to bring back those old days, those old dreams, all that sweet companionship, of a time so long ago it seems a part of some former life.”

“ I meant not to offend you,” she murmured, touched by his words and tone.

“ Let it pass. I was childish. I am not offended. I ought not to be offended by anything you can say, so long — so long as you love me ? ”

He finished the sentence with an inflection so emphatically interrogative that involuntarily she put out her hand towards him, as if for a reassuring caress.

He seized it eagerly. His face lighted up with a look long strange to it. He drew a deep breath. His tongue was loosed. His pulses beat time again to the measure of hope. With one strenuous effort, he rose forth from the atmosphere of benumbing apathy which had overhung and hemmed them in since leaving the church door.

“ Think you they will ever come again, those times, Hester ? Are we not grown too old, and wise, and sad ? We were silly then, two happy fools. I wonder often, nowadays, if one needs not be a fool to be so happy ? ”

A pleased look stole over her face. Regarding him shyly, with an evident reawakening of her old admiration, she listened to his enthusiasm and yielded to his impetuosity. This change of mood was not lost to his watchful eye, and it acted upon him like sunlight on a flower.

“ But why cannot we grow silly again, sweetheart ? I feel within me the makings of a rare fool.”

She laughed outright at this conceit, an answer which, more than a hundred words, availed to rend the filmy web of constraint years of estrangement had woven between them. He seized her other hand, he folded her in his arms. They awoke, as it seemed, from a long sleep, and looked back upon their trouble as upon a nightmare.

Approaching sounds were heard; their privacy was presently intruded upon by a group of idle boys coming to sit upon the rocks. It was more than an interruption ; it was a shock. It resulted in dashing the cup from lips thirsting for a long-expected draught. It was one of the finite nothings that have infinite effects.

They rose, and sauntered up Broadway.

In the street, a short distance before them, stood a little group of three well-known persons, who seemed in the act of separating. Abram Gouveneur and Mary Milborne walked northward towards the Landpoort, while Cobus, turning away from them with a loud laugh and a parting gibe, strode southward towards the fort.

His face was still beaming with the afterglow of laughter, when by chance he raised his eyes and beheld, just beside him, his other sister and her swain. His face changed in a trice. The smile gave way to a scowl, and without a word or look of greeting he passed them by.

Having long since adjusted his relations with Jacob Leisler junior, Steenie made a stout effort to ignore the matter, and went on talking with studied indifference. As well might he have hoped to ignore an iceberg ; turning one’s back and vaunting the sunshine unhappily does not stay the lowering temperature.

Hester made no pretense of indifference, nor effort to hide her dismay. From her silence, indeed, it is much to be feared she lent but half an ear to Steenie’s talk. But the junker, it should be said, made sorry work of talking. He had been cruelly winged, and, no longer able to soar, he lamely fluttered along the ground. Arrived at the graveyard gate, why did not some instinct warn him to drop the matter for a time, or adjourn it until he could lay an offering on the altar of the fickle goddess of moods ? Because youth would forever be overcoming the giant circumstances with a pebble, and learns nothing from the bones of former victims ; because, perhaps, a subtler instinct whispered him to go on.

He did go on, and Hester blindly followed. They walked up and down among the grass-grown mounds in the little burying-ground, he manfully wrestling with the situation. Growing weary of fighting in the dark, an impulse presently seized him to recognize what he had been so laboriously trying to put out of sight, drag it forth like a skeleton from the closet, and make an end of it in fair daylight.

“ Hester,” he cried suddenly, “ you have always shown yourself a girl with a mind of her own. Do you suffer yourself now to be ruled by yonder” — he checked himself — “ by them who have no rights in the matter? ”

“ Poor Cobus ! ” she answered depreeatingly, “ he cannot forget the past, he cannot understand how things have changed in his absence. He comes back thinking to find everything as it was. He has waited so long, he has borne such trial and humiliation, he should be forgiven.”

“ I forgive him. I forget him. I think nothing of him. I only claim you shall give no heed to his glowerings.”

“ I must needs consider him, he has toiled so hard in my behalf. He has lifted us from the dust. He has redeemed from reproach our martyred father’s name.”

“ That can he never do. Take no such comfort to your heart! ” he burst forth, as if irritated beyond endurance by this unexpected sounding of the old string of discord.

“ What say you ? ”

“The memory of that man’s tyranny and persecution,” he went on with blind infatuation, “ will never be forgotten or forgiven. ’T is burnt in upon men’s hearts; ’t is interwoven in the annals of the province.”

“ You — you say this ! ”

“ The king may make what decrees he will, and forbid that a spade shall be called a spade, but neither king nor Parliament can wash out guilt.”

“Guilt!” repeated Hester, in a tone whose breathless amazement aroused him too late to a sense of what he was saying. “ Think you, then, my father was guilty ? ”

Looking down into her whitening face and glowing eyes, he took alarm, and hesitated.

“The truth, — the truth, if you be a man ! ” she demanded imperiously.

“I do ! ” he answered, with the look of one driven to the wall.

“Then, as God my heavenly Father helps me, I will never have more to do with you ! ”

“ Hester! ”

“ Never ! — never ! — NEVER ! ”

The solemnity, touched with horror, of her look and manner shocked the repentant junker. Bewildered by the suddenness of it all, he stared stupidly at the face before him, —stared until, with returning consciousness, he saw there signs, well known to him, of a resolution fixed as fate. He did not speak, but drawing a long breath, as of one after suspended animation, he turned away, and walked out of the graveyard.

XXXIV.

Having caught a fleeting glimpse of Steenie at church, Cornelis De Peyster came, a few days afterward, to welcome him back to town. Doubtless it was due to the host’s own mood that the visitor seemed a thought more gay and rattling than usual.

“ Steen, trust me, bouwerie life is a bad thing for you. You grow to look like Van Twiller’s owl; ’t is truth, I swear! You’ve heard the news about

Disgusted by the apathy on his listener’s face, the speaker shook him by the shoulder. old Bellomont ? ’T is well he cannot hear me; there’s not such another tyrant betwixt this and the Grand Mogul. This latest freak is worthy of him. What think you ? ’T is nothing more nor less than to dig up the bones of yonder gallows-birds.”

“ Hear you that, man ? Leisler and his henchman are to be dug up, I say. A store of powder is to be burned over them, bells are to be rung, and such noisy honor done. ’T is the newest London method to wash out guilt, you may be sure. By and by, when this precious carrion is purged of sin and duly sanctified, ’t is then to be buried in the church, ’neath the very sanctuary roof, mind you; and there is a monstrous stir about it among the deacons and elders. Eh ? So you can open your eyes at last! ”

The apathetic host indeed showed a languid interest.

“ But that is nothing to the pother raised in town. The memory of that old bully is so green, and the dread of him so little abated, that many are quaking in their shoes lest, brought back to the light of day, his ghost should usurp its ancient place, and sweep the land with fire and sword. But I see you care nothing for all this. Your eyes are strained across the sea. Come, then, tell us about this Holland voyage. When do you set sail ? ”

“ To-morrow — next day — I know nothing about it; at any hour the ship is loaded.”

“ So ! You are on tenterhooks, then. Egad, if I were but in your shoes! You might do worse, too, than take me in your train. My word for it, I ’d not dishonor you. But I know not, after all, that I want to go. Here are stirring times coming I would not miss. The old Mogul yonder cannot hold this course long ; there are ugly squalls ahead. He upsets everything; heaps honors on the Leislerians; declares war to the knife against all the world beside. Oh-h-h, there is promise of rare sport hereabouts before you get back ! But what time is set for your stay ? ”

“ None; ’t is not fixed; it may be forever.”

“ Poll! poh ! Never tell me you are downhearted over going! Eh? I swear you are ! What, wear a face like that over such a lucky chance ! There ’s not a junker in the province but would jump at it.”

“ They are welcome.”

“ Well, well! was ever heard ? But ’tis the way; luck comes to them that prize it not. Pearls cast before — Pardon ! Oh, but this is a passing megrim, a grumbling - fit the sea - air will blow away.”

“ I make no complaint.”

“ Truly and do you not ? Complaint! I hope not, indeed! Complaint at having a chance to see the world, to travel, to get out of this little hive and spread your wings ! ”

“ And what is the good of all that ? ”

“ Good ! — but I ’ll not waste time talking to a madman, Steen. Your spleen is upset. Go take a posset and get on your nightcap. One might think,” rising to go, with a loud, rallying laugh, “I swear he might, that you were leaving a sweetheart behind.”

“I’m leaving all behind. There ’s none cares whether I go or stay. I care not myself. What matters it? If the rest of the world prove no better than this corner of it ” —

“ Ay, but it will, — it will ! ”

“ So let it, then. Good-by. ’T was good of you to come. You were ever friendly. I shall think of you often among yonder strangers.”

The visit, perhaps by bringing about the formulation of certain undefined thoughts, resulted in filling Steenie with uneasiness and an impatience to be gone. Every day he wandered down to the dock, and restlessly hung about to watch the stanch bark Angel Gabriel loading for the voyage.

Getting weary, one morning, noting the slow process, he sauntered across town and out through the Landpoort to the open country.

Passing Van Dorn’s bouwerie, some impulse prompted him to stop. The door was opened by Ripse, now grown to a chubby, staring boy in breeches. Walking in without a bidding, the junker found Tryntie bending over Rip senior, who lay stretched on a bed in the corner. The look which lighted up the little huysvrouw’s face at sight of him was the best welcome he could have had.

“ What is here ? ”

“ T is Rip; he thinks himself in a poor way.”

“ What ails him ? ”

“The rheumatics ’tis.

“ Ay, Mynheer,” interposed the invalid himself, with the open-hearted manner which had been an appreciable charm even in his worst estate, “ rheumatics — ugh-h ! — caught lying out all night in a ditch, coming home from Annetje Litschoe’s. She always said, my — ugh-h! — my vrouw here, I should come to that, and so you see I have — ugh-h! And what does she ? She takes me home and cares for me, instead of driving me off like a drunken dog! ”

“ Ye’d best not be a fool now, if ye can help it! ” broke in sharply the little vrouw, who was rubbing the patient with some home-made liniment.

“ She did, Mynheer, — she did, I say, and waits and tends on me night and day since — ugh-h ! ”

“ Well. then, will ye stop ? ”

“ As I had been good and faithful to her.”

“ Go on, do, and bring back the fever with your talk ! ”

“ There’s not such an— oh, moord! — another huysvrouw in the land — ugh-h! ”

“ He is growing a baby, Mynheer; give him no heed,” muttered the nurse aside to Steenie, as she finished her task and turned away from the bed.

“ I believe you, Rip,” said the visitor heartily, in answer to the patient. “Take you good care, then, my man, that you give her no needless trouble henceforth. But I am sorry to find you in such a case, with the winter at hand. How goes all else with you, vrouw ? ”

“All well, best thanks, Mynheer.”

“ Never trust her, — never trust her, Mynheer,” put in the sick man again between his twinges.

“Would ye bring back the fever, I say?” asked Tryntie, interrupting her patient, with a vain attempt to check the coming confidence.

“ Things are at the worst, Mynheer, — at the very worst. We are to be turned out of this,—turned out on the highway like dogs, and me, — ugh-h ! — as you see, in this state. Out of our own home, bought by yonder one. Oh, my treasure, this kills me ! ”

“ Ye will be talking ! ”

“ By my vrouw yonder, I say, with her own gear.”

“ How is this ? ”

“ ’T was the old commander’s, as ye know, this bouwerie. We bought it — ‘t was for anybody to buy — at the sale, and now comes his Excellency and — ugh-h ! — and bids us be packing. They would take it from her, — all she has in the world, and never a stuyver of the cost paid back.”

“They’ll never do it.”

“We are warned, I say.”

“ But Vrouw Leisler, — she knows you, she will do something.”

“No, no, that will she not, Mynheer, nor raise a hand. She hates the sight of us since we bought the land.”

“ But his Excellency ? ”

“ Speak not of him. My Tryntie went to him yonder at the fort, and showed him — ugh-h ! — the truth. He turned her a deaf ear, and when she would argue upon it, as she has a way at times, and spoke her mind to his face, he had her thrust forth the council chamber. Now tell me — tell me — ugh-h ! — if things are at the best.”

Lending a divided attention to the sick man, and following the movements of the silent vrouw busied with her household tasks, Steenie sat musing upon what he had heard, when he was aroused by the rattle of the latch. Seated in the corner, at the foot of the bed, the door opened back upon him, and the newcomer did not at once see him.

“My treasure! ” It was an ecstatic cry from the vrouw as she embraced her visitor.

“ So, Tryntie ! You are glad, then ? ”

“ Never till now ! And so tall, — a woman grown. Where is my little dear ? She is lost, she is gone.”

“ No, she is not gone, but come, — just come back to you, silly old goose to cry ! Come, now, dry your eyes ! I have, heard of your sick man from my father,—we came back but yesterday. I have brought him some medicine, and there are things for yourself,” setting down a basket upon the floor. “ Sh-h ! sh-h! Will you stop, I say ? Go empty your basket, that I may have it for another time ! Along with you ! I will not be soaked in tears — ’t is a pretty welcome indeed after all this time. So, Rip, I am sorry to see you down, man. You must — er — pardon — I — I saw not ” —

“ Catalina ! ”

“ Mynheer! ”

“So ’t is you who are playing the doctor ? ”

“ Yes — no — I knew not the need of one till to-day. My father told me — ’t was he sent the medicine — since he became councilor he has little time for healing the sick.”

While delivering this spasmodic answer, the speaker, all the dash of her entrance spent, edged nervously towards the door.

“ But you are never leaving your patient so soon ? ” “ ‘T is my vrouw, Mynheer,” put in Rip, “’t is ever my vrouw she wants. Tryntie nursed her when a baby. ‘T is my vrouw she comes to see; she cares not a seawant’s shell for me, as why should she ? ”

“ I leave the patient to you, Mynheer.

I go to help Tryntie with the basket.”

“ ’T is a firm friend of the vrouw, that,” said Rip, looking after her as she disappeared from the room. " Her worshipful mother, the doctor’s great lady yonder, sends us a store of things and many fair speeches, but she cares not enough to come.”

In this wise the sick man maundered on, Steenie nodding mechanical assent. It was fully quarter of an hour before the two came back with the empty basket. The visitor was tying the strings of her hood, preparing to go.

“ Good-day to you, Rip,” she said, pausing at the bedside. “ I hope the next time to see you better.”

Turning then with a constrained air to Steenie, she dropped him a formal courtesy, and, murmuring something inaudible, walked to the outer door, followed by Tryntie.

“ Away so soon ? ”

“ I must needs go — I — my mother charged me not to loiter.”

“ By your leave, then, since you have no other company, I will walk back with you.”

The junker looked puzzled at the evident consternation with which his suggestion was received.

“ Many thanks — but — I — you are most kind, Mynheer. I would else, but my horse is at the door.”

“What matter?” persisted the officious escort. " I will walk at your side, then, since you will not walk at mine.”

Interpreting after his own fashion the two or three disjointed words which he heard of the muttered answer, the junker bustled after them and seated the visitor in her saddle. Turning then, he took leave of Tryntie.

“ I am sorry to leave you in this trouble, vrouw.”

“ ’T is nothing.”

“ I will not forget, be sure, if I see a way to help you.”

“ You were ever good, Mynheer.”

“ He will be well soon, the goodman yonder, never fear.”

Nodding respectfully in recognition of the attempt at encouragement, but plainly without sharing the hope expressed, the vrouw courtesied repeatedly as her guests walked slowly away, the tall junker at the horse’s bridle, and Catalina fidgeting vaguely with the saddle.

Directly they were upon the highway the rider began to talk garrulously, showing an odd agitation at the least pause in the conversation. Her companion was naturally puzzled at the apparent want of purpose with which she persistently kept to one subject.

“ ’T is well to try to raise her hopes, Mynheer, — ‘t is good of you. She is much downcast, howsoever she holds up her head; she never complains, she would not to me. It was nothing but ‘ All is at the best, —all at the best,’ but I saw her wipe the tears, on the sly. And father says, — he went to them yonder a week ago, — he says there is fear of Rip; if the cramp once lays hold upon the heart, there is an end of him. She knows it, too, — she has puzzled it out ; but she will not say so, she will never open her lips to complain.”

Poor vrouw ! ‘t is a hard case. She is a brave little body, and I would I might do something for her. So you have come back to town to live ? ”

“Yes, yes, we are but just come,— yesterday. What a great pity ’t is for them to lose the bouwerie !”

“ So ’t is, yes, a pity indeed. You must find the town much changed.”

“ Oh, another place ; it seems no more like home — I would go back — their own, too, hers alone if right were right, and all they have — what will they do ? ”

“ Be sure some way will be found, — something can be done to hinder it; ’t will never be suffered, such a wrong. Aha, see ! there is a place unchanged for you,

— Smiet’s Vly yonder ; not a leaf nor a bush is turned. ‘T is the spot we first met, you and I. You remember the bull and the children running away, and the mad prank I played you ? ”

“I — I was very young; ‘t is long ago now,” was the evasive answer.

“ What! have you forgot how I teased you, and the rage you were in, and how you scolded me ? ”

The junker laughed outright at the picture he had conjured up, and in his enthusiasm in recalling its details failed to note his listener’s distressed look at the reminiscence.

“ Yes, yes, your face was blazing red. your eyes shooting fire. You stripped my handkerchief from your arm and stamped it underfoot, and declared eternal war against me. Surely you must remember something of that? ”

“I —I was a peevish child.”

“ That you were; you held to your threat, too. ’T was a long time till ” — “ But if, touching this matter, his Excellency has declared against it, what can be done, Mynheer ? ”

“Eh?”

“ Can it be taken to the king ? ”

“ This business of Tryntie’s? Humph

— haw — I much doubt — I will think upon it. Oh, but ‘t was a droll time we had that day. See you there the very spot! Here stood Corny De Peyster calling me, the bull down yonder in the Vly, big Claes running with the axe, you farther on by the Waterpoort stamping your bit of a foot and tragically casting me off forever, while up the Magde Paetje there was — ahem — er — I ” —

The speaker stopped short in his floundering, and made no attempt to finish his sentence. He walked on for several minutes without speaking. Catalina, at once puzzled and relieved, stole a curious look askance at her glum escort as he strode along, but made no attempt to break the silence. Presently recollecting himself, by a resolute effort he shook off the impression which weighed upon him. With a sweeping glance townward, as if in search of a suggestion, he forced himself to speak.

“ Yes, the good old times are gone; one knows not what new things are in store for us here. Nothing stays a minute as it was ; the town and townsfolk will be changed past knowing against my coming home.”

“ You are going away? ” asked the listener quickly.

“ Yes.”

“ To — to — a long journey ? ”

“ To Holland.”

“ That need not take so long; one may be back again in a few months.”

“ ‘T is doubtful if ever I come back.”

“ So! ”

A note of consternation in the tone drew the junker’s attention to an odd change in the speaker’s looks. The glowing color suddenly faded from her cheeks, her eyes slowly closed, she clutched blindly at the saddle-bow and swayed in her seat. None too soon came her escort’s supporting grasp. Upholding the limp figure with one hand, he turned the horse’s head towards the Magde Paetje in quest of water.

As if surmising his purpose, the rider opened her eyes, straightened herself in the saddle, and, as it seemed, by an effort of pure will resumed self-control.

“ Mynheer — pardon,” gathering up her reins. “ Do not think me unmannerly. You will not mind that I leave you. I must needs get home.”

“ But — but ‘t is better that I be with you — ‘t is not safe ; you may be taken again — Catalina — I beg you ” —

Giving the whip to her horse, however, the willful girl galloped off in a cloud of dust, only drawing rein to the slow pace required by law as she passed through the city gate, and disappeared from sight.

Reaching home, Steenie was met on the threshold by his mother, with the news that the Angel Gabriel was to sail the following day. This announcement for a time put every other thought out of his head. Despite his previous apathy, now that the moment of departure had come it stirred him into a healthful excitement. The rest of the day was filled with the bustle of final preparation. Although busied with his own concerns, he did not forget his promise to Tryntie, and commended her case to his mother’s care. Madam Van Cortlandt, who had heard of the Van Dorns only as old retainers of Leisler, was conservative in her promises.

“ So ? Humph ! I will see. But now, my son, I must leave you to do what more there is by yourself. Your father seems not well of late, and needs my attention.”

The evening was only half spent. Left to himself, the junker brooded a long time over the fire. Then, yielding to a restlessness which forbade the thought of sleep, he threw on his hat and cloak, and wandered out into the town.

Without thought as to his course, he visited many of his old haunts, bringing up at last in the dock, where he sat down upon the weather-stained crossbeam of the old ducking-stool, and gazed off upon the water, as if longing for the moment of his setting forth.

The night was stormy; the clouds hung low over the little town, shutting out the world beyond. Through the thick drapery of fog, the feeble lights of the sparse shipping looked like the dull fiery eyes of some malign disembodied intelligence keeping guard over the unconscious watcher.

Sitting thus absorbed, he presently became aware of some unusual stir in the town. There was the tread of many feet, the suppressed murmur of voices, while from time to time dark figures, singly and in groups, could be seen hurrying in the direction of the fort.

Brought back from his reverie to real life by this strange occurrence, and moved still by an unconscious interest, the interest of habit, in what belonged to the old life and old world from which he had already in intent severed himself, he refrained from following the crowd, but climbed with listless steps to his favorite outlook on the Verlettenberg.

Here, though nothing could be seen for the darkness, the wind brought to his ears faint sounds of martial music from the direction of the Landpoort. The sounds gradually came nearer. Heard more distinctly, the music resolved itself into the rhythm of a solemn march. A long row of flaming torches was seen moving down Broadway. He remembered Cornells De Peyster’s words, and knew what it all meant.

With the languid interest of one foreign to place and occasion, he left his post and repaired to the fort. He arrived in time to see a memorable procession. Behind a strong detachment of troops, marching with draped flags and arms reversed, came a funeral car, decked with mourning emblems, and followed by a long line of attendant citizens carrying torches, which flared and sputtered in the driving rain.

Massed about the entrance to the fort was a dense multitude, silent and waiting. Steenie made one of them. As the gates opened and the funeral car rolled in, the bell in the old church tower struck the hour of midnight. The junker shuddered. Certain old impressions came swarming back upon him with intolerable vividness.

The commander was then at last justified. The ignominy of the scaffold and the darkness of the grave had been followed by this resurrection to the honor of the world and due sacramental rites.

Next morning, as lie sailed out of the harbor under a brilliant sun, this midnight pageant seemed to Steenie as something he had dreamed.

Edwin Lassetter Bynner.