Part 3 out of 6
fact. It came to the creek at the very head of the chasm, skirting the
mysterious circle of sacred stones, then crossing the swift water on a new
bridge of logs, then climbing the farther side of the ravine by a steep
zigzag course which hung dangerously close to the precipitous wall of dark
rocks. I remarked at the time, as we made our way up, that there ought to
be a chain, or outer guard of some sort, for safety. Mr. Stewart said he
would speak to Philip about it, and added the information that this side
of the gulf was Philip's property.
"It is rough enough land," he went on to say, "and would never be worth
clearing. He has some plan of keeping it in all its wildness, and building
a little summer-house down below by the bridge, within full sound of the
waterfall. No doubt we shall arrange to share the enterprise together. You
know I have bought on the other side straight to the creek."
Once the road at the top was gained, Cairncross was but a pleasant walking
measure, over paths well smoothed and made. Of the mansion in process of
erection, which, like Johnson Hall, was to be of wood, not much except the
skeleton framework met the eye, but this promised a massive and imposing
edifice. A host of masons, carpenters, and laborers, sufficient to have
quite depopulated Johnstown during the daylight hours, were hammering,
hewing, or clinking the chimney-bricks with their trowels, within and
about the structure.
At a sufficient distance from this tumult of construction, and on a level,
high plot of lawn, was a pretty marquee tent. Here the guests were
assembled, and thither we bent our steps.
Young Cross came forth eagerly to greet us--or, rather, my
companions--with outstretched hands and a glowing face. He was bareheaded,
and very beautifully, though not garishly clad. In the reddish, dimmed
sunlight, with his yellow hair and his fresh, beaming face, he certainly
He bowed ceremoniously to Mr. Stewart, and then took him warmly by the
hand. Then with a frank gesture, as if to gayly confess that the real
delight was at hand, he bent low before Daisy and touched her fingers
with his lips.
"You make me your slave, your very happy slave, dear lady, by coming," he
murmured, loud enough for me to hear. She blushed, and smiled with
pleasure at him.
To me our young host was civil enough. He called me "Morrison," it is
true, without any "Mr.," but he shook hands with me, and said affably that
he was glad to see me back safe and sound. Thereafter he paid no attention
whatsoever to me, but hung by Daisy's side in the cheerful circle
outside the tent.
Sir William was there, and Lady Berenicia, of course, and a dozen others.
By all I was welcomed home with cordiality--by all save the Lady, who was
distant, not to say supercilious in her manner, and Sir John Johnson, who
took the trouble only to nod at me.
Inquiring after Mr. Jonathan Cross, I learned that my late companion was
confined to the Hall, if not to his room, by a sprained ankle. There being
nothing to attract me at the gathering, save, indeed, the girl who was
monopolized by my host, and the spectacle of this affording me more
discomfort than satisfaction, the condition of my friend at the Hall
occurred to me as a pretext for absenting myself. I mentioned it to Mr.
Stewart, who had been this hour or so in great spirits, and who now was
chuckling with the Lady and one or two others over some tale she
"Quite right," he said, without turning his head; and so, beckoning to
Tulp to follow me, I started.
It was a brisk hour's walk to the Hall, and I strode along at a pace which
forced my companion now and again into a trot. I took rather a savage
comfort in this, as one likes to bite hard on an aching tooth; for I had a
profound friendship for this poor black boy, and to put a hardship upon
him was to suffer myself even more than he did. Tulp had come up misshapen
and undersized from his long siege with the small-pox, and with very
rickety and unstable legs. I could scarcely have sold him for a hundred
dollars, and would not have parted with him for ten thousand, if for no
other reason than his deep and dog-like devotion to me. Hence, when I
made this poor fellow run and pant, I must have been possessed of an
unusually resolute desire to be disagreeable to myself. And in truth
* * * * *
Mr. Jonathan Cross made me very welcome. His accident had befallen on the
very day following his return, and he had seen nobody save the inmates of
the Hall since that time. We had many things to talk about--among others,
of my going to Albany to take the agency. I told him that this had not
been quite decided as yet, but avoided giving reasons. I could not well
tell this born-and-bred merchant that my guardian thought I ought to feel
above trade. His calm eyes permitted themselves a solitary twinkle as I
stumbled over the subject, but he said nothing.
He did express some interest, however, when I told him whence I had come,
and what company I had quitted to visit him.
"So Mistress Daisy is there with the rest, is she?" he said, with more
vigor in his voice than I had ever heard there before. "So, so! The apple
has fallen with less shaking than I thought for."
I do not think that I made any remark in reply. If I did, it must have
been inconsequential in the extreme, for my impression is of a long,
heart-aching silence, during which I stared at my companion, and
At last I know that he said to me--I recall the very tone to this day:
"You ought to be told, I think. Yes, you ought to know. Philip Cross
asked her to be his wife a fortnight ago. She gave no decided answer. From
what Philip and Lady Berenicia have said to each other here, since, I know
it was understood that if she went to him to-day it meant 'yes.'"
This time I know I kept silence for a long time.
I found myself finally holding the hand he had extended to me, and saying,
in a voice which sounded like a stranger's:
"I will go to Albany whenever you like."
I left the Hall somehow, kicking the drunken Enoch Wade fiercely out of my
path, I remember, and walking straight ahead as if blindfolded.
Tulp Gets a Broken Head to Match My Heart.
Without heed as to the direction, I started at a furious pace up the road
which I found myself upon--Tulp at my heels. If he had not, from utter
weariness, cried out after a time, I should have followed the track
straight, unceasing, over the four leagues and more to the Sacondaga. As
it was, I had presently to stop and retrace my steps to where he sat on a
wayside stump, dead beat.
"Don't you wait for me, Mass' Douw, if you're bound to get there quick,"
he said, gasping for breath. "Don't mind me. I'll follow along the best
The phrase "get there"--it was almost the only English which poor Tulp had
put into the polyglot sentence he really uttered--arrested my attention.
"Get where?" I had been headed for the mountains--for the black water
which dashed foaming down their defiles, and eddied in sinister depths at
their bases. I could see the faint blue peaks on the horizon from where I
stood, by the side of the tired slave. The sight sobered me. To this day I
cannot truly say whether I had known where I was going, and if there had
not been in my burning brain the latent impulse to throw myself into the
Sacondaga. But I could still find the spot--altered beyond recollection
as the face of the country is--where Tulp's fatigue compelled me to stop,
and where I stood gazing out of new eyes, as it were, upon the pale
As I looked, the aspect of the day had changed The soft, somnolent haze
had vanished from the air. Dark clouds were lifting themselves in the east
and north beyond the mountains, and a chill breeze was blowing from them
upon my brow. I took off my hat, and held up my face to get all its
cooling touch. Tulp, between heavy breaths, still begged that his
infirmity might not be allowed to delay me.
"Why, boy," I laughed bitterly at him, "I have no place to go to. Nobody
is waiting for me--nobody wants me."
The black looked hopeless bewilderment at me, and offered no comment. Long
afterward I learned that he at the moment reached the reluctant conclusion
that I had taken too much drink in the Hall.
"Or no!" I went on, a thought coming to the surface in the hurly-burly of
my mind. "We are going to Albany. That's where we're going."
Tulp's sooty face took on a more dubious look, if that were possible. He
humbly suggested that I had chosen a roundabout route; perhaps I was going
by the way of the Healing Springs. But it must be a long, lonesome road,
and the rain was coming on.
Sure enough the sky was darkening: a storm was in the air, and already the
distant mountain-tops were hidden from view by the rain-mist.
Without more words I put on my hat, and we turned back toward the
settlements. The disposition to walk swiftly, which before had been a
controlling thing, was gone. My pace was slow enough now, descending the
hill, for even Tulp, who followed close upon my heels. But my head was not
much clearer. It was not from inability to think: to the contrary, the
vividness and swift succession of my thoughts, as they raced through my
brain, almost frightened me.
I had fancied myself miserable that very morning, because Mr. Stewart had
spoken carelessly to me, and she had been only ordinarily pleasant. Ah,
fool! My estate that morning had been that of a king, of a god, in
contrast to this present wretchedness. Then I still had a home--still
nourished in my heart a hope--and these _were_ happiness! I laughed aloud
at my folly in having deemed them less.
She had put her hand in his--given herself to him! She had with her eyes
open promised to marry this Englishman--fop! dullard! roisterer! insolent
cub!--so the rough words tumbled to my tongue. In a hundred ways I
pictured her--called up her beauty, her delicacy, her innocence, her
grace, the refined softness of her bearing, the sweet purity of her smile,
the high dignity of her thoughts--and then ground my teeth as I placed
against them the solitary image my mind consented to limn of him--brawling
dandy with fashionable smirk and false blue eyes, flushed with wine, and
proud of no better achievement than throwing a smith in a drunken
wrestling-bout. It was a sin--a desecration! Where were their eyes, that
they did not read this fellow's worthlessness, and bid him stand back when
he sought to lay his coarse hands upon her?
Yet who were these that should have saved her? Ah! were they not all of
his class, or of his pretence to class?
Some of them had been my life-long friends. To Mr. Stewart--and I could
not feel bitterly toward him even now--I owed home, education, rearing,
everything; Sir William had been the earliest and kindest of my other
friends, eager and glad always to assist, instruct, encourage me; John
Butler had given me my first gun, and had petted me in his rough way from
boyhood. Yet now, at a touch of that hateful, impalpable thing "class,"
these all vanished away from my support, and were to me as if they had
never been. I saw them over on the other side, across the abyss from me,
grouped smiling about this new-comer, praising his brute ability to drink
and race and wrestle, complimenting him upon his position among the
gentry--save the mark!--of Tryon County, and proud that they had by never
so little aided him to secure for a wife this poor trembling, timid,
fascinated girl. Doubtless they felt that a great honor had been done her;
it might be that even she dreamed this, too, as she heard their
And these men, honest, fair-minded gentlemen as they were in other
affairs, would toss me aside like a broken pipe if I ventured to challenge
their sympathy as against this empty-headed, satined, and powdered
stranger. They had known and watched me all my life. My smallest action,
my most trivial habit, was familiar to them. They had seen me grow before
their eyes--dutiful, obedient, diligent, honest, sober, truthful. In their
hearts they knew that I deserved all these epithets. They themselves time
out of mind had applied them to me. I stood now, at my early age, and on
my own account, on the threshold of a career of honorable trade, surely as
worthy now as it was when Sir William began at it far more humbly. Yet
with all these creditable things known to them, I could not stand for a
moment in their estimation against this characterless new-comer!
Why? He was a "gentleman," and I was not.
Not that he was better born--a thousand times no! But I had drawn from the
self-sacrificing, modest, devoted man of God, my father, and the resolute,
tireless, hard working, sternly honest housewife, my mother, the fatal
notion that it was not beneath the dignity of a Mauverensen or a Van Hoorn
to be of use in the world. My ancestors had fought for their little
country, nobly and through whole generations, to free it from the accursed
rule of that nest of aristocrats, Spain; but they had not been ashamed
also to work, in either the Old World or the New. This other, this
Englishman--I found myself calling him that as the most comprehensive
expletive I could use--the son of a professional butcher and of an
intriguing woman, was my superior here, in truth, where I had lived all
my life and he had but shown his nose, because he preferred idleness to
It was a mistake, then, was it, to be temperate and industrious? It was
more honorable to ride at races, to play high stakes, and drain three
bottles at dinner, than to study and to do one's duty? To be a gentleman
was a matter of silk breeches and perukes and late hours? Out upon the
blundering playwright who made Bassanio win with the leaden casket! Portia
was a woman, and would have wrapped her picture--nay, herself--in tinsel
gilt, the gaudier the better!
But why strive to trace further my wrathful meditations? There is nothing
pleasant or profitable in the contemplation of anger, even when reason
runs abreast of it. And I especially have no pride in this three hours'
wild fury. There were moments in it, I fear, when my rage was well-nigh
murderous in its fierceness.
The storm came--a cold, thin, driving rain, with faint mutterings of
thunder far behind. I did not care to quicken my pace or fasten my coat.
The inclemency fitted and echoed my mood.
On the road we came suddenly upon the Hall party, returning in haste from
the interrupted picnic. The baronet's carriage, with the hood drawn,
rumbled past without a sign of recognition from driver or inmates. A
half-dozen horsemen cantered behind, their chins buried in their collars,
and their hats pulled down over their eyes. One of the last of these--it
was Bryan Lefferty--reined up long enough to inform me that Mr. Stewart
and Daisy had long before started by the forest path for their home, and
that young Cross had made short work of his other guests in order to
"We're not after complaining, though," said the jovial Irishman; "it's
human nature to desert ordinary mortals like us when youth and beauty
beckon the other way."
I made some indifferent answer, and he rode away after his companions. We
resumed our tramp over the muddy track, with the rain and wind gloomily
pelting upon our backs.
When we turned off into the woods, to descend the steep side-hill to the
waterfall, it was no easy matter to keep our footing. The narrow trail
was slippery with wet leaves and moss. Looking over the dizzy edge, you
could see the tops of tall trees far below. The depths were an indistinct
mass of dripping foliage, dark green and russet. We made our way gingerly
and with extreme care, with the distant clamor of the falls in our ears,
and the peril of tumbling headlong keeping all our senses painfully alert.
At a turn in the path, I came sharply upon Philip Cross.
He was returning from the Cedars: he carried a broken bough to use as a
walking-stick in the difficult ascent, and was panting with the exertion;
yet the lightness of his heart impelled him to hum broken snatches of a
song as he climbed. The wet verdure under foot had so deadened sound that
neither suspected the presence of the other till we suddenly stood, on
this slightly widened, overhanging platform, face to face!
He seemed to observe an unusual something on my face, but it did not
interest him enough to affect his customary cool, off-hand civility
"Oh, Morrison, is that you?" he said, nonchalantly. "You're drenched, I
see, like the rest of us. Odd that so fine a day should end like this
"--and made as if to pass me on the inner side.
I blocked his way and said, with an involuntary shake in my voice which I
could only hope he failed to note:
"You have miscalled me twice to-day. I will teach you my true name, if you
He looked at me curiously for an instant--then with a frown. "You are
drunk," he cried, angrily. "Out of my way!"
"No, you are again wrong," I said, keeping my voice down, and looking him
square in the eye. "I'm not of the drunken set in the Valley. No man was
ever soberer. But I am going to spell my name out for you, in such manner
that you will be in no danger of forgetting it to your dying day."
The young Englishman threw a swift glance about him, to measure his
surroundings. Then he laid down his cudgel, and proceeded to unbutton his
great-coat, which by some strange freak of irony happened to be one of
mine that they had lent him at the Cedars for his homeward journey.
If the words may be coupled, I watched him with an enraged admiration.
There was no sign of fear manifest in his face or bearing. With all his
knowledge of wrestling, he could not but have felt that, against my
superior size and weight, and long familiarity with woodland footing,
there were not many chances of his escaping with his life: if I went over,
he certainly would go too--and he might go alone. Yet he unfastened his
coats with a fine air of unconcern, and turned back his ruffles carefully.
I could not maintain the same calm in throwing off my hat and coat, and
was vexed with myself for it.
We faced each other thus in our waistcoats in the drizzling rain for a
final moment, exchanging a crossfire sweep of glances which took in not
only antagonist, but every varying foot of the treacherous ground we stood
upon, and God knows what else beside--when I was conscious of a swift
movement past me from behind.
I had so completely forgotten Tulp's presence that for the second that
followed I scarcely realized what was happening. Probably the faithful
slave had no other thought, as he glided in front of me, than to thus
place himself between me and what he believed to be certain death.
To the Englishman the sudden movement may easily have seemed an attack.
There was an instant's waving to and fro of a light and a dark body close
before my startled eyes. Then, with a scream which froze the very marrow
in my bones, the negro boy, arms whirling wide in air, shot over the side
of the cliff!
Friends of mine in later years, when they heard this story from my lips
over a pipe and bowl, used to express surprise that I did not that very
moment throw myself upon Cross, and fiercely bring the quarrel to an end,
one way or the other. I remember that when General Arnold came up the
Valley, five years after, and I recounted to him this incident, which
recent events had recalled, he did not conceal his opinion that I had
chosen the timid part. "By God!" he cried, striking the camp-table till
the candlesticks rattled, "I would have killed him or he would have killed
me, before the nigger struck bottom!" Very likely he would have done as he
said. I have never seen a man with a swifter temper and resolution than
poor, brave, choleric, handsome Arnold had; and into a hideously hopeless
morass of infamy they landed him, too! No doubt it will seem to my
readers, as well, that in nature I ought upon the instant to have grappled
The fact was, however, that this unforeseen event took every atom of fight
out of both of us as completely as if we had been struck by lightning.
With a cry of horror I knelt and hung over the shelving edge as far as
possible, striving to discover some trace of my boy through the misty
masses of foliage below. I could see nothing--could hear nothing but the
far-off dashing of the waters, which had now in my ears an unspeakably
sinister sound. It was only when I rose to my feet again that I caught
sight of Tulp, slowly making his way up the other side of the ravine,
limping and holding one hand to his head. He had evidently been hurt, but
it was a great deal to know that he was alive. I turned to my
antagonist--it seemed that a long time had passed since I last looked
The same idea that the struggle was postponed had come to him, evidently,
for he had put on his coats again, and had folded his arms. He too had
been alarmed for the fate of the boy, but he affected now not to see him.
I drew back to the rock now, and Cross passed me in silence, with his chin
defiantly in the air. He turned when he had gained the path above, and
stood for a moment frowning down at me.
"I am going to marry Miss Stewart," he called out. "The sooner you find a
new master, and take yourself off, the better. I don't want to see
"When you do see me again," I made answer, "be sure that I will break
every bone in your body."
With this not very heroic interchange of compliments we parted. I
continued the descent, and crossed the creek to where the unfortunate Tulp
was waiting for me.
I Perforce Say Farewell to My Old Home.
The slave sat upon one of the bowlders in the old Indian circle, holding
his jaw with his hand, and rocking himself like a child with the colic.
He could give me no account whatever of the marvellous escape he had had
from instant death, and I was forced to conclude that his fall had been
more than once broken by the interposition of branches or clumps of vines.
He seemed to have fortunately landed on his head. His jaw was broken, and
some of his teeth loosened, but none of his limbs were fractured, though
all were bruised. I bound up his chin with my handkerchief, and put my
neckcloth over one of his eyes, which was scratched and swollen shut, as
by some poisonous thing. Thus bandaged, he hobbled along behind me over
the short remaining distance. The rain and cold increased as nightfall
came on, and, no longer sustained by my anger, I found the walk a very wet
and miserable affair.
When I reached the Cedars, and had sent Tulp to his parents with a promise
to look in upon him later, I was still without any definite plan of what
to say or do upon entering. The immensity of the crisis which had
overtaken me had not shut my mind to the fact that the others, so far
from being similarly overwhelmed, did not even suspect any reason on my
part for revolt or sorrow. I had given neither of them any cause, by word
or sign, to regard me as a rival to Cross--at least, of late years. So far
as they were concerned, I had no ground to stand upon in making a protest.
Yet when did this consideration restrain an angry lover? I had a savage
feeling that they ought to have known, if they didn't. And reflection upon
the late scene on the gulf side--upon the altercation, upon the abortive
way in which I had allowed mastery of the situation to slip through my
fingers, and upon poor Tulp's sufferings--only served to swell my
mortification and rage.
When I entered--after a momentary temptation to make a stranger of myself
by knocking at the door--Daisy was sitting by the fire beside Mr. Stewart;
both were looking meditatively into the fire, which gave the only light in
the room, and she was holding his hand. My heart melted for a second as
this pretty, home-like picture met my eyes, and a sob came into my throat
at the thought that I was no longer a part of this dear home-circle. Then
sulkiness rose to the top again. I muttered something about the weather,
lighted a candle at the fire, and moved past them to the door of my room.
"Why, Douw," asked Daisy, half rising as she spoke, "what has happened?
There's blood on your ruffles! Where is your neckcloth?"
I made answer, standing with my hand upon the latch, and glowering at her:
"The blood comes from my Tulp's broken head: I used my neckcloth to tie
it up. He was thrown over the side of Kayaderosseros gulf, an hour ago, by
the gentleman whom it is announced you are going to marry!"
Without waiting to note the effect of these words, I went into my room,
closing the door behind me sharply. I spent a wretched hour or so, sorting
over my clothes and possessions, trinkets and the like, and packing them
for a journey. Nothing was very clear in my mind, between bitter repining
at the misery which had come upon me and the growing repulsion I felt for
making these two unhappy, but it was at least obvious that I must as soon
as possible leave the Cedars.
When at last I reentered the outer room, the table was spread for supper.
Only Mr. Stewart was in the room, and he stood in his favorite attitude,
with his back to the fire and his hands behind him. He preserved a
complete silence, not even looking at me, until my aunt had brought in the
simple evening meal. To her he said briefly that Mistress Daisy had gone
to her room, weary and with a headache, and would take no supper. I felt
the smart of reproof to me in every word he uttered, and even more in his
curt tone. I stood at the window with my back to him, looking through the
dripping little panes at the scattered lights across the river, and not
ceasing for an instant to think forebodingly of the scene which was
Dame Kronk had been out of the room some moments when he said, testily:
"Well, sir! will you do me the honor to come to the table, or is it your
wish that I should fetch your supper to you?" The least trace of softness
in his voice would, I think, have broken down my temper. If he had been
only grieved at my behavior, and had shown to me sorrow instead of
truculent rebuke, I would have been ready, I believe, to fall at his feet.
But his scornful sternness hardened me.
"Thank you, sir," I replied, "I have no wish for supper."
More seconds of silence ensued. The streaming windows and blurred
fragments of light, against the blackness outside, seemed to mirror the
chaotic state of my mind. I ought to turn to him--a thousand times over, I
knew I ought--and yet for my life I could not. At last he spoke again:
"Perhaps, then, you will have the politeness to face me. My association
has chiefly been with gentlemen, and I should mayhap be embarrassed by
want of experience if I essayed to address you to your back."
I had wheeled around before half his first sentence was out, thoroughly
ashamed of myself. In my contrition I had put forth my hand as I moved
toward him. He did not deign to notice--or rather to respond to--the
apologetic overture, and I dropped the hand and halted. He looked me over
now, searchingly and with a glance of mingled curiosity and anger. He
seemed to be searching for words sufficiently formal and harsh, meanwhile,
and he was some time in finding them.
"In the days when I wore a sword for use, young man, and moved among my
equals," he began, deliberately, "it was not held to be a safe or small
matter to offer me affront. Other times, other manners. The treatment
which then I would not have brooked from Cardinal York himself, I find
myself forced to submit to, under my own roof, at the hands of a person
who, to state it most lightly, should for decency's sake put on the
appearance of respect for my gray hairs."
He paused here, and I would have spoken, but he held up his slender,
ruffled hand with a peremptory "Pray, allow me!" and presently went on:
"In speaking to you as I ought to speak, I am at the disadvantage of being
wholly unable to comprehend the strange and malevolent change which has
come over you. Through nearly twenty years of close and even daily
observation, rendered at once keen and kindly by an affection to which I
will not now refer, you had produced upon me the impression of a dutiful,
respectful, honorable, and polite young man. If, as was the case, you
developed some of the to me less attractive and less generous virtues of
your race, I still did not fail to see that they were, in their way,
virtues, and that they inured both to my material profit and to your
credit among your neighbors. I had said to myself, after much
consideration, that if you had not come up wholly the sort of gentleman I
had looked for, still you were a gentleman, and had qualities which, taken
altogether, would make you a creditable successor to me on the portions of
my estate which it was my purpose to entail upon you and yours."
"Believe me, Mr. Stewart," I interposed here, with a broken voice, as he
paused again, "I am deeply--very deeply grateful to you."
He went on as if I had not spoken:
"Judge, then, my amazement and grief to find you returning from your
voyage to the West intent upon leaving me, upon casting aside the position
and duties for which I had trained you, and upon going down to Albany to
dicker for pence and ha'pence with the other Dutchmen there. I did not
forbid your going. I contented myself by making known to you my
disappointment at your selection of a career so much inferior to your
education and position in life. Whereupon you have no better conception of
what is due to me and to yourself than to begin a season of sulky pouting
and sullenness, culminating in the incredible rudeness of open insults to
me, and, what is worse, to my daughter in my presence. She has gone to her
chamber sick in head and heart alike from your boorish behavior. I would
fain have retired also, in equal sorrow and disgust, had it not seemed my
duty to demand an explanation from you before the night passed."
The blow--the whole crushing series of blows--had fallen. How I suffered
under them, how each separate lash tore savagely through heart and soul
and flesh, it would be vain to attempt to tell.
Yet with the anguish there came no weakening. I had been wrong and
foolish, and clearly enough I saw it, but this was not the way to correct
or chastise me. A solitary sad word would have unmanned me; this long,
stately, satirical speech, this ironically elaborate travesty of my
actions and motives, had an opposite effect. I suffered, but I stubbornly
stood my ground.
"If I have disappointed you, sir, I am more grieved than you can possibly
be," I replied. "If what I said was in fact an affront to you, and
to--her--then I would tear out my tongue to recall the words. But how can
the simple truth affront?"
"What was this you called out so rudely about the gulf--about Tulp's being
thrown over by--by the gentleman my daughter is to marry? since you choose
to describe him thus."
"I spoke the literal truth, sir. It was fairly by a miracle that the poor
devil escaped with his life."
"How did it happen? What was the provocation? Even in Caligula's days
slaves were not thrown over cliffs without some reason."
"Tulp suffered for the folly of being faithful to me--for not
understanding that it was the fashion to desert me," I replied, with
rising temerity. "He threw himself between me and this Cross of yours, as
we faced each other on the ledge--where we spoke this morning of the need
for a chain--and the Englishman flung him off."
"Threw himself between you! Were you quarrelling, you two, then?"
"I dare say it would be described as a quarrel. I think I should have
killed him, or he killed me, if the calamity of poor Tulp's tumble had not
put other things in our heads."
"My faith!" was Mr. Stewart's only comment. He stared at me for a time,
then seated himself before the fire, and looked at the blaze and smoke in
apparent meditation. Finally he said, in a somewhat milder voice than
before: "Draw a chair up here and sit down. Doubtless there is more in
this than I thought. Explain it to me."
I felt less at my ease, seated now for a more or less moderate conference,
than I had been on my feet, bearing my part in a quarrel.
"What am I to explain?" I asked.
"Why were you quarrelling with Philip?"
"Because I felt like it--because I hate him!"
"Tut, tut! That is a child's answer. What is the trouble between you two?
I demand to know!"
"If you will have it"--and all my resentment and sense of loss burst forth
in the explanation--"because he has destroyed my home for me; because he
has ousted me from the place I used to have, and strove so hard to be
worthy of, in your affections; because, after a few months here, with his
fine clothes and his dashing, wasteful ways, he is more regarded by you
and your friends than I am, who have tried faithfully all my life to
deserve your regard; because he has taken--" But I broke down here. My
throat choked the sound in sobs, and I turned my face away that he might
not see the tears which I felt scalding my eyes.
My companion kept silent, but he poked the damp, smudging sticks about in
the fire-place vigorously, took his spectacles out of their case, rubbed
them, and put them back in his pocket, and in other ways long since
familiar to me betrayed his uneasy interest. These slight signs of growing
sympathy--or, at least, comprehension--encouraged me to proceed, and my
voice came back to me.
"If you could know," I went mournfully on, "the joy I felt when I first
looked on the Valley--_our_ Valley--again at Fort Stanwix; if you could
only realize how I counted the hours and minutes which separated me from
this home, from you and her, and how I cried out at their slowness; if you
could guess how my heart beat when I walked up the path out there that
evening, and opened that door, and looked to see you two welcome me--ah,
then you could feel the bitterness I have felt since! I came home burning
with eagerness, homesickness, to be in my old place again near you and
her--and the place was filled by another! If I have seemed rude and
sullen, _that_ is the reason. If I had set less store upon your love, and
upon her--her--liking for me, then doubtless I should have borne the
displacement with better grace. But it put me on the rack. Believe me, if
I have behaved to your displeasure, and hers, it has been from very excess
of tenderness trampled underfoot."
At least the misunderstanding had been cleared up, and for a time, at all
events, the heart of my life-long friend had warmed again to me as of old.
He put his hand paternally upon my knee, and patted it softly.
"My poor boy," he said, with a sympathetic half-smile, and in his old-time
gravely gentle voice: "even in your tribulation you must be Dutch! Why not
have said this to me--or what then occurred to you of it--at the outset,
the first day after you came? Why, then it could all have been put right
in a twinkling. But no! in your secretive Dutch fashion you must needs go
aloof, and worry your heart sore by all sorts of suspicions and jealousies
and fears that you have been supplanted--until, see for yourself what a
melancholy pass you have brought us all to! Suppose by chance, while these
sullen devils were driving you to despair, you had done injury to
Philip--perhaps even killed him! Think what your feelings, and ours, would
be now. And all might have been cleared up, set right, by a word at the
I looked hard into the fire, and clinched my teeth.
"Would a word have given me Daisy?" I asked from between them.
He withdrew his hand from my knee, and pushed one of the logs petulantly
with his foot. "What do you mean?" he demanded.
"I mean that for five years I have desired--for the past six months have,
waking or sleeping, thought of nothing else but this desire of my
heart--to have Daisy for my wife."
As he did not speak, I went on with an impassioned volubility altogether
strange to my custom, recalling to him the tender intimacy in which she
and I had grown up from babyhood; the early tacit understanding that we
were to inherit the Cedars and all its belongings, and his own not
infrequent allusions in those days to the vision of our sharing it, and
all else in life, together. Then I pictured to him the brotherly fondness
of my later years, blossoming suddenly, luxuriantly, into the fervor of a
lover's devotion while I was far away in the wilds, with no gracious,
civilizing presence (save always Mr. Cross) near me except the dear image
of her which I carried in my heart of hearts. I told him, too, of the
delicious excitement with which, day by day, I drew nearer to the home
that held her, trembling now with nervousness at my slow progress, now
with timidity lest, grasping this vast happiness too swiftly, I should
crush it from very ecstasy of possession. I made clear to him, moreover,
that I had come without ever dreaming of the possibility of a rival--as
innocently, serenely confident of right, as would be a little child
approaching to kiss its mother.
"Fancy this child struck violently in the face by this mother, from whom
it had never before received so much as a frown," I concluded; "then you
will understand something of the blow which has sent me reeling."
His answering words, when finally he spoke, were sympathetic and friendly
enough, but not very much to the point. This was, doubtless, due to no
fault of his; consolation at such times is not within the power of the
very wisest to bestow.
He pointed out to me that these were a class of disappointments
exceedingly common to the lot of young men; it was the way of the world.
In the process of pairing off a generation, probably ninety-nine out of
every hundred couples would secretly have preferred some other
distribution; yet they made the best of it, and the world wagged on just
the same as before. With all these and many other jarring commonplaces he
essayed to soothe me--to the inevitable increase of my bitter discontent.
He added, I remember, a personal parallel:
"I have never spoken of it to you, or to any other, but I too had my
grievous disappointment. I was in love with the mother of this young
Philip Cross. I worshipped her reverently from afar; I had no other
thought or aim in life but to win her favor, to gain a position worthy of
her; I would have crossed the Channel, and marched into St. James's, and
hacked off the Hanoverian's heavy head with my father's broadsword, I
verily believe, to have had one smile from her lips. Yet I had to pocket
this all, and stand smilingly by and see her wedded to my tent-mate, Tony
Cross. I thought the world had come to an end--but it hadn't. Women are
kittle cattle, my boy. They must have their head, or their blood turns
sour. Come! where is the genuineness of your affection for our girl, if
you would deny her the gallant of her choice?"
"If I believed," I blurted out, "that it _was_ her own free choice!"
"Whose else, then, pray?"
"If I felt that she truly, deliberately preferred him--that she had not
been decoyed and misled by that Lady Ber--"
"Fie upon such talk!" said the old gentleman, with a shade of returning
testiness in his tone. "Do you comprehend our Daisy so slightly, after all
these years? Is she a girl not to know her own mind? Tut! she loves the
youngster; she has chosen him. If you had stopped at home, if you had
spoken earlier instead of mooning, Dutch fashion, in your own mind, it
might have been different. Who can say? But it may not be altered now. We
who are left must still plan to promote her happiness. A hundred
bridegrooms could not make her less our Daisy than she was. There must be
no more quarrels between you boys, remember! I forbid it, your own
judgment will forbid it. He will make a good husband to the girl, and I
mistake much if he does not make a great man of himself in the Colony.
Perhaps--who knows?--he may bring her a title, or even a coronet, some of
these days. The Crown will have need of all its loyal gentlemen here, soon
enough, too, as the current runs now, and rewards and honors will flow
freely. Philip will lose no chance to turn the stream Cairncross way."
My aunt came in to take away the untouched dishes--Mr. Stewart could never
abide negroes in their capacity as domestics--and soon thereafter we went
to bed; I, for one, to lie sleepless and disconsolate till twilight came.
The next morning we two again had the table to ourselves, for Daisy sent
down word that her head was still aching, and we must not wait the meal
for her. It was a silent and constrained affair, this breakfast, and we
hurried through it as one speeds a distasteful task.
It was afterward, as we walked forth together into the garden, where the
wet earth already steamed under the warm downpour of sunlight, that I told
Mr. Stewart of my resolution to go as soon as possible to Albany, and
take up the proffered agency.
He seemed to have prepared himself for this, and offered no strong
opposition. We had both, indeed, reached the conclusion that it was the
best way out of the embarrassment which hung over us. He still clung, or
made a show of clinging, to his regret that I had not been satisfied with
my position at the Cedars. But in his heart, I am sure, he was relieved by
my perseverance in the project.
Two or three days were consumed in preparations at home and in conferences
with Jonathan Cross, either at Johnson Hall or at our place, whither he
was twice able to drive. He furnished me with several letters, and with
voluminous suggestions and advice. Sir William, too, gave me letters, and
much valuable information as to Albany ways and prejudices. I had, among
others from him, I remember, a letter of presentation to Governor Tryon,
who with his lady had visited the baronet during my absence, but which I
never presented, and another to the uncle of the boy-Patroon, which was of
In the hurry and occupation of making ready for so rapid and momentous a
departure, I had not many opportunities of seeing Daisy. During the few
times that we were alone together, no allusion was made to the scene of
that night, or to my words, or to her betrothal. How much she knew of the
incident on the gulf-side, or of my later explanation and confession to
Mr. Stewart, I could not guess. She was somewhat reserved in her manner, I
fancied, and she seemed to quietly avoid being alone in the room with me.
At the final parting, too, she proffered me only her cheek to touch with
my lips. Yet I could not honestly say that, deep in her heart, she was not
sorry for me and tender toward me, and grieved to have me go.
It was on the morning of the last day of September, 1772, that I began
life alone, for myself, by starting on the journey to Albany. If I carried
with me a sad heart, there yet were already visible the dawnings of
compensation. At least, I had not quarrelled with the dear twain of
As for Philip Cross, I strove not to think of him at all.
The Fair Beginning of a New Life in Ancient Albany.
The life in Albany was to me as if I had become a citizen of some new
world. I had seen the old burgh once or twice before, fleetingly and with
but a stranger's eyes; now it was my home. As I think upon it at this
distance, it seems as if I grew accustomed to the novel environment almost
at the outset. At least, I did not pine overmuch for the Valley I had
For one thing, there was plenty of hard work to keep my mind from moping.
I had entirely to create both my position and my business. This latter
was, in some regards, as broad as the continent; in others it was
pitifully circumscribed and narrow. It is hard for us now, with our eager
national passion for opening up the wilderness and peopling waste places,
to realize that the great trading companies of Colonial days had exactly
the contrary desire. It was the chief anxiety of the fur companies to
prevent immigration--to preserve the forests in as savage a state as
possible. One can see now that it was a fatal error in England's policy to
encourage these vast conservators of barbarism, instead of wholesome
settlement by families--a policy which was avowedly adopted because it was
easier to sell monopolies to a few companies than to collect taxes from
scattered communities. I do not know that I thought much upon this then,
however. I was too busy in fitting myself to Albany.
Others who saw the city in these primitive Dutch days have found much in
it and its inhabitants to revile and scoff at. To my mind it was a most
delightful place. Its Yankee critics assail a host of features which were
to me sources of great satisfaction--doubtless because they and I were
equally Dutch. I loved its narrow-gabled houses, with their yellow pressed
brick, and iron girders, and high, hospitable stoops, and projecting
water-spouts--which all spoke to me of the dear, brave, good old Holland I
had never seen. It is true that these eaves-troughs, which in the
Netherlands discharged the rainfall into the canal in front of the houses,
here poured their contents upon the middle of the sidewalks, and New
England carpers have made much of this. But to me there was always a
pretty pathos in this resolution to reproduce, here in the wilderness, the
conditions of the dear old home, even if one got drenched for it.
And Albany was then almost as much in the wilderness as Caughnawaga. There
were a full score of good oil-lamps set up in the streets; some Scotchmen
had established a newspaper the year before, which print was to be had
weekly; the city had had its dramatic baptism, too, and people still told
of the theatrical band who had come and performed for a month at the
hospital, and of the fierce sermon against them which Dominie
Freylinghuysen had preached three years before. Albany now is a great
town, having over ten thousand souls within its boundaries; then its
population was less than one-third of that number. But the three or four
hundred houses of the city were spread over such an area of ground, and
were so surrounded by trim gardens and embowered in trees, that the effect
was that of a vastly larger place. Upon its borders, one stepped off the
grassy street into the wild country-road or wilder forest-trail. The
wilderness stretched its dark shadows to our very thresholds. It is
thought worthy of note now by travellers that one can hear, from the steps
of our new State House, the drumming of partridges in the woods beyond.
Then we could hear, in addition, the barking of wolves skulking down from
the Helderbergs, and on occasion the scream of a panther.
Yet here there was a feeling of perfect security and peace. The days when
men bore their guns to church were now but a memory among the elders. The
only Indians we saw were those who came in, under strict espionage, to
barter their furs for merchandise and drink--principally drink--and
occasional delegations of chiefs who came here to meet the governor or his
representatives--these latter journeying up from New York for the purpose.
For the rest, a goodly and profitable traffic went sedately and
comfortably forward. We sent ships to Europe and the West Indies, and even
to the slave-yielding coast of Guinea. In both the whaling and deep-sea
fisheries we had our part. As for furs and leather and lumber, no other
town in the colonies compared with Albany. We did this business in our
own way, to be sure, without bustle or boasting, and so were accounted
slow by our noisier neighbors to the east and south.
There were numerous holidays in this honest, happy old time, although the
firing of guns on New Year's was rather churlishly forbidden by the
Assembly the year after my arrival. It gives me no pleasure now, in my old
age, to see Pinkster forgotten, and Vrouwen-dagh and Easter pass
unnoticed, under the growing sway of the New England invaders, who know
how neither to rest nor to play.
But my chief enjoyment lay, I think, in the people I came to know. Up in
the Valley, if exception were made of four or five families already
sketched in this tale, there were no associates for me who knew aught of
books or polite matters in general. Of late, indeed, I had felt myself
almost wholly alone, since my few educated companions or acquaintances
were on the Tory side of the widening division, and I, much as I was
repelled by their politics, could find small intellectual equivalent for
them among the Dutch and German Whigs whose cause and political sympathies
But here in Albany I could hate the English and denounce their rule and
rulers in excellent and profitable company. I was fortunate enough at the
outset to produce a favorable impression upon Abraham Ten Broeck, the
uncle and guardian of the boy-Patroon, and in some respects the foremost
citizen of the town. Through him I speedily became acquainted with others
not less worthy of friendship--Colonel Philip Schuyler, whom I had seen
before and spoken with in the Valley once or twice, but now came upon
terms of intimacy with; John Tayler and Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, younger
men, and trusted friends of his; Peter Gansevoort, who was of my own age,
and whom I grew to love like a brother--and so on, through a long list.
These and their associates were educated and refined gentlemen, not
inferior in any way to the Johnsons and Butlers I had left behind me, or
to the De Lanceys, Phillipses, Wattses, and other Tory gentry whom I had
seen. If they did not drink as deep, they read a good deal more, and were
masters of as courteous and distinguished a manner. Heretofore I had
suffered not a little from the notion--enforced upon me by all my
surroundings--that gentility and good-breeding went hand in hand with
loyalty to everything England did, and that disaffection was but another
name for vulgarity and ignorance. Despite this notion, I had still chosen
disaffection, but I cannot say that I was altogether pleased with the
ostracism from congenial companionship which this seemed to involve. Hence
the charm of my discovery in Albany that the best and wisest of its
citizens, the natural leaders of its social, commercial, and political
life, were of my way of thinking.
More than this, I soon came to realize that this question for and against
England was a deeper and graver matter than I had dreamed it to be. Up in
our slow, pastoral, uninformed Valley the division was of recent growth,
and, as I have tried to show, was even now more an affair of race and
social affiliations than of politics. The trial of Zenger, the Stamp Act
crisis, the Boston Massacre--all the great events which were so bitterly
discussed in the outer Colonial world--had created scarcely a ripple in
our isolated chain of frontier settlements. We rustics had been conscious
of disturbances and changes in the atmosphere, so to speak, but had lacked
the skill and information--perhaps the interest as well--to interpret
these signs of impending storm aright. Here in Albany I suddenly found
myself among able and prudent men who had as distinct ideas of the evils
of English control, and as deep-seated a resolution to put an end to it,
as our common ancestors had held in Holland toward the detested Spaniards.
Need I say that I drank in all this with enthusiastic relish, and became
the most ardent of Whigs?
Of my business it is not needful to speak at length. Once established,
there was nothing specially laborious or notable about it. The whole
current of the company's traffic to and fro passed under my eye. There
were many separate accounts to keep, and a small army of agents to govern,
to supply, to pay, and to restrain from fraud--for which they had a
considerable talent, and even more inclination. There were cargoes of
provisions and merchandise to receive from our company's vessels at
Albany, and prepare for transportation across country to the West; and
there were return-cargoes of peltries and other products to be shipped
hence to England. Of all this I had charge and oversight, but with no
obligation upon me to do more of the labor than was fit, or to spare
expense in securing a proper performance of the residue by others.
Mr. Jonathan Cross and his lady came down to Albany shortly after I had
entered upon my duties there, and made a stay of some days. He was as kind
and thoughtful as ever, approving much that I had done, suggesting
alterations and amendments here and there, but for the most part talking
of me and my prospects. He had little to say about the people at the
Cedars, or about the young master of Cairncross, which was now approaching
completion, and I had small heart to ask him for more than he volunteered.
Both Mr. Stewart and Daisy had charged him with affectionate messages for
me, and that was some consolation; but I was still sore enough over the
collapse of my hopes, and still held enough wrath in my heart against
Philip, to make me wish to recall neither more often than could be helped.
The truth is, I think that I was already becoming reconciled to my
disappointment and to my change of life, and was secretly ashamed of
myself for it, and so liked best to keep my thoughts and talk upon
Lady Berenicia I saw but once, and that was once too often. It pleased her
ladyship to pretend to recall me with difficulty, and, after she had
established my poor identity in her mind, to treat me with great coolness.
I am charitable enough to hope that this gratified her more than it vexed
me, which was not at all.
The ill-assorted twain finally left Albany, taking passage on one of the
company's ships. Mr. Cross's last words to me were: "Do as much business,
push trade as sharply, as you can. There is no telling how long English
charters, or the King's writ for that matter, will continue to run
So they set sail, and I never saw either of them again.
It was a source of much satisfaction and gain to me that my position held
me far above the bartering and dickering of the small traders. It is true
that I went through the form of purchasing a license to trade in the city,
for which I paid four pounds sterling--a restriction which has always
seemed to me as unintelligent as it was harmful to the interests of the
town--but it was purely a form. We neither bought nor sold in Albany. This
made it the easier for me to meet good people on equal terms--not that I
am silly enough to hold trade in disrespect, but because the merchants who
came in direct contact with the Indians and trappers suffered in
estimation from the cloud of evil repute which hung over their business.
I lived quietly, and without ostentation, putting aside some money each
quarter, and adventuring my savings to considerable profit in the
company's business--a matter which Mr. Cross had arranged for me. I went
to many of the best houses of the Whig sort. In some ways, perhaps, my
progress in knowledge and familiarity with worldly things were purchased
at the expense of an innocence which might better have been retained. But
that is the manner of all flesh, and I was no worse, I like to hope, than
the best-behaved of my fellows. I certainly laughed more now in a year
than I had done in all my life before; in truth, I may be said to have
learned to laugh here in Albany, for there were merry wights among my
companions. One in particular should be spoken of--a second-cousin of
mine, named Teunis Van Hoorn, a young physician who had studied at Leyden,
and who made jests which were often worthy to be written down.
So two years went by. I had grown somewhat in flesh, being now decently
rounded out and solid. Many of my timid and morose ways had been dropped
meantime. I could talk now to ladies and to my elders without feeling
tongue-tied at my youthful presumption. I was a man of affairs,
twenty-five years of age, with some money of my own, an excellent
position, and as good a circle of friends as fortune ever gave to
Once each month Mr. Stewart and I exchanged letters. Through this
correspondence I was informed, in the winter following my departure, of
the marriage of Daisy and Philip Cross.
I Go to a Famous Gathering at the Patroon's Manor House.
We come to a soft, clear night in the Indian summer-time of 1774--a night
not to be forgotten while memory remains to me.
There was a grand gathering and ball at the Manor House of the Patroons,
and to it I was invited. Cadwallader Golden, the octogenarian
lieutenant-governor, and chief representative of the Crown now that Tryon
was away in England, had come up to Albany in state, upon some business
which I now forget, and he was to be entertained at the Van Rensselaer
mansion, and with him the rank, beauty, and worth of all the country
roundabout. I had heard that a considerable number of invitations had been
despatched to the Tory families in my old neighborhood, and that, despite
the great distance, sundry of them had been accepted. Sir William Johnson
had now been dead some months, and it was fitting that his successor, Sir
John, newly master of all the vast estates, should embrace this
opportunity to make his first appearance as baronet in public. In fact, he
had arrived in town with Lady Johnson, and it was said that they came in
company with others. I could not help wondering, as I attired myself, with
more than ordinary care, in my best maroon coat and smallclothes and
flowered saffron waistcoat, who it was that accompanied the Johnsons. Was
I at last to meet Daisy?
Succeeding generations have discovered many tricks of embellishment and
decoration of which we old ones never dreamed. But I doubt if even the
most favored of progressive moderns has laid eyes upon any sight more
beautiful than that which I recall now, as the events of this evening
return to me.
You may still see for yourselves how noble, one might say palatial, was
the home which young Stephen Van Rensselaer built for himself, there on
the lowlands at the end of Broadway, across the Kissing Bridge. But no
power of fancy can restore for _you_--sober-clad, pre-occupied, democratic
people that you are--the flashing glories of that spectacle: the broad,
fine front of the Manor House, with all its windows blazing in welcome;
the tall trees in front aglow with swinging lanterns and colored lights,
hung cunningly in their shadowy branches after some Italian device; the
stately carriages sweeping up the gravelled avenue, and discharging their
passengers at the block; the gay procession up the wide stone steps--rich
velvets and costly satins, powdered wigs and alabaster throats, bright
eyes, and gems on sword-hilts or at fair breasts--all radiant in the
hospitable flood of light streaming from the open door; the throng of
gaping slaves with torches, and smartly dressed servants holding the
horses or helping with my lady's train and cloak; the resplendent body of
color, and light, and sparkling beauty, which the eye caught in the
spacious hall within, beyond the figures of the widowed hostess and her
son, the eight-year-old Patroon, who stood forth to greet their guests.
No! the scene belongs to its own dead century and fading generation. You
shall strive in vain to reproduce it, even in fancy.
The full harvest-moon, which hung in the lambent heavens above all,
pictures itself to my memory as far fairer and more luminous than is the
best of nowaday moons. Alas! my old eyes read no romance in the silvery
beams now, but suspect rheumatism instead.
This round, lustrous orb, pendant over the Hudson, was not plainer to
every sight that evening than was to every consciousness the fact that
this gathering was a sort of ceremonial salute before a duel. The storm
was soon to break; we all felt it in the air. There was a subdued, almost
stiff, politeness in the tone and manner when Dutchman met Englishman,
when Whig met Tory, which spoke more eloquently than words. Beneath the
formal courtesy, and careful avoidance of debatable topics, one could see
sidelong glances cast, and hear muttered sneers. We bowed low to one
another, but with anxious faces, knowing that we stood upon the thin crust
over the crater, likely at any moment to crash through it.
It was my fortune to be well known to Madame Van Rensselaer, our hostess.
She was a Livingston, and a patriot, and she knew me for one as well. "The
Tories are here in great muster," she whispered to me, when I bowed before
her; "I doubt not it is the last time you will ever see them under my
roof. The Colonel has news from Philadelphia to-day. There is
I could see Colonel Schuyler standing beside one of the doors to the left,
but to reach him was not easy. First I must pause to exchange a few words
with Dominie Westerlo, the learned and good pastor of the Dutch church, of
whose intended marriage with the widow, our hostess, there were even then
rumors. And afterward there was the mayor, Abraham Cuyler, whom we all
liked personally, despite his weak leaning toward the English, and it
would not do to pass him by unheeded.
While I still stood with him, talking of I know not what, the arrival of
the lieutenant-governor was announced. A buzz of whispering ran round the
hall. In the succeeding silence that dignitary walked toward us, a space
clearing about him as he did so. The mayor advanced to meet him, and I
I knew much about this remarkable Mr. Colden. Almost my first English book
had been his account of the Indian tribes, and in later years I had been
equally instructed by his writings on astronomy and scientific subjects.
Even in my boyhood I had heard of him as a very old man, and here he was
now, eighty-six years of age, the highest representative in the Colony of
English authority. I could feel none of the hostility I ought from his
office to have felt, when I presently made my obeisance, and he offered
me his hand.
It was a pleasant face and a kindly eye which met my look. Despite his
great age, he seemed scarcely older in countenance and bearing than had
Mr. Stewart when last I saw him. He was simply clad, and I saw from his
long, waving, untied hair why he was called "Old Silver Locks." His few
words to me were amiable commonplaces, and I passed to make room for
others, and found my way now to where Schuyler stood.
"The old fox!" he said, smilingly nodding toward Colden. "One may not but
like him, for all his tricks. If England had had the wit to keep that rude
boor of a Tryon at home, and make Colden governor, and listen to him,
matters would have gone better. Who is that behind him? Oh, yes,
Oliver de Lancey was chiefly notable on account of his late brother James,
who had been chief justice and lieutenant-governor, and the most
brilliant, unscrupulous, masterful politician of his time. Oliver was
himself a man of much energy and ambition. I observed him curiously, for
his mother had been a Van Cortlandt, and I had some of that blood in my
veins as well. So far as it had contributed to shape his face, I was not
proud of it, for he had a selfish and arrogant mien.
It was more satisfactory to watch my companion, as he told me the names of
the Tories who followed in Colden's wake, and commented on their
characters. I do not recall them, but I remember every line of Philip
Schuyler's face, and every inflection of his voice. He was then not quite
forty years of age, almost of my stature--that is to say, a tall man. He
held himself very erect, giving strangers the impression of a haughty air,
which his dark face and eyes, and black lines of hair peeping from under
the powder, helped to confirm. But no one could speak in amity with him
without finding him to be the most affable and sweet-natured of men. If he
had had more of the personal vanity and self-love which his bearing seemed
to indicate, it would have served him well, perhaps, when New England
jealousy assailed and overbore him. But he was too proud to fight for
himself, and too patriotic not to fight for his country, whether the just
reward came or was withheld.
Colonel Schuyler had been chosen as one of the five delegates of the
Colony to attend the first Continental Congress, now sitting at
Philadelphia, but ill-health had compelled him to decline the journey. He
had since been to New York, however, where he had learned much of the
situation, and now was in receipt of tidings from the Congress itself. By
a compromise in the New York Assembly, both parties had been represented
in our delegation, the Whigs sending Philip Livingston and Isaac Low, the
Tories James Duane and John Jay, and the fifth man, one Alsopp, being a
neutral-tinted individual to whom neither side could object. The
information which Schuyler had received was to the effect that all five,
under the tremendous and enthusiastic pressure they had encountered in
Philadelphia, had now resolved to act together in all things for the
Colonies and against the Crown.
"That means," said he, "that we shall all adopt Massachusetts's cause as
our own. After Virginia led the way with Patrick Henry's speech, there was
no other course possible for even Jay and Duane. I should like to hear
that man Henry. He must be wonderful."
The space about Mr. Colden had shifted across the room, so that we were
now upon its edge, and Schuyler went to him with outstretched hand. The
two men exchanged a glance, and each knew what the other was thinking of.
"Your excellency has heard from Philadelphia," said the Colonel, more as a
statement of fact than as an inquiry.
"Sad, sad!" exclaimed the aged politician, in a low tone. "It is a grief
instead of a joy to have lived so long, if my life must end amid
contention and strife."
"He is really sincere in deploring the trouble," said Schuyler, when he
had rejoined me. "He knows in his heart that the Ministry are pig-headedly
wrong, and that we are in the right. He would do justice if he could, but
he is as powerless as I am so far as influencing London goes, and here he
is in the hands of the De Lanceys. To give the devil his due, I believe
Sir William Johnson was on our side, too, at heart."
We had talked of this before, and out of deference to my sentiments of
liking and gratitude to Sir William, he always tried to say amiable things
about the late baronet to me. But they did not come easily, for there was
an old-time feud between the two families. The dislike dated back to the
beginning of young Johnson's career, when, by taking sides shrewdly in a
political struggle between Clinton and De Lancey, he had ousted John
Schuyler, Philip's grandfather, from the Indian commissionership and
secured it for himself. In later years, since the Colonel had come to
manhood, he had been forced into rivalry, almost amounting to antagonism
at times, with the baronet, in Colonial and Indian affairs; and even now,
after the baronet's death, it was hard for him to acknowledge the
existence of all the virtues which my boyish liking had found in Sir
William. But still he did try, if only to please me.
As we spoke, Sir John Johnson passed us, in company with several younger
men, pushing toward the room to the right, where the punch-bowl
"At least, _he_ is no friend of yours?" said Schuyler, indicating the
red-faced young baronet.
"No man less so," I replied, promptly. Two years ago I doubt I should have
been so certain of my entire enmity toward Sir John. But in the interim
all my accumulating political fervor had unconsciously stretched back to
include the Johnstown Tories; I found myself now honestly hating them all
alike for their former coolness to me and their present odious attitude
toward my people. And it was not difficult, recalling all my boyish
dislike for John Johnson and his steadily contemptuous treatment of me, to
make him the chief object of my aversion.
We talked of him now, and of his wife, a beautiful, sweet-faced girl of
twenty, who had been Polly Watts of New York. My companion pointed her out
to me, as one of a circle beyond the fire-place. He had only soft words
and pity for her--as if foreseeing the anguish and travail soon to be
brought upon her by her husband's misdeeds--but he spoke very slightingly
and angrily of Sir John. To Schuyler's mind there was no good in him.
"I have known him more or less since he was a boy and followed his father
in the Lake George campaign. The officers then could not abide him, though
some were submissive to him because of his father's position. So now,
fifteen years afterward, although he has many toadies and flatterers, I
doubt his having any real friends. Through all these score of years, I
have yet to learn of any gracious or manly thing he has done."
"At least he did gallop from the Fort to the Hall at news of his father's
death, and kill his horse by the pace," I said.
"Heirs can afford to ride swiftly," replied the Colonel, in a dry tone.
"No: he has neither the honesty to respect the rights of others, nor the
wit to enforce those which he arrogates to himself. Look at his management
in the Mohawk Valley. Scarce two months after the old baronet's
death--before he was barely warm in his father's bed--all the Dutch and
Palatines and Cherry Valley Scotch were up in arms against him and his
friends. I call that the work of a fool. Why, Tryon County ought, by all
the rules, to be the Tories' strongest citadel. There, of all other
places, they should be able to hold their own. Old Sir William would have
contrived matters better, believe me. But this sulky, slave-driving cub
must needs force the quarrel from the start. Already they have their
committee in the Palatine district, with men like Frey and Yates and Paris
on it, and their resolutions are as strong as any we have heard."
Others came up at this, and I moved away, thinking to pay my respects to
friends in the rooms on the left. The fine hall was almost overcrowded.
One's knee struck a sword, or one's foot touched a satin train, at every
step. There were many whom I knew, chiefly Albanians, and my progress was
thus rendered slow. At the door I met my kinsman, Dr. Teunis Van Hoorn.
"Ha! well met, Cousin Sobriety!" he cried. "Let us cross the hall, and get
near the punch-bowl."
"It is my idea that you have had enough," I answered.
"'Too much is enough,' as the Indian said. He was nearer the truth than
you are," replied Teunis, taking my arm.
"No, not now! First let me see who is here."
"Who is here? Everybody--from Hendrik Hudson and Killian the First down.
Old Centenarian Colden is telling them about William the Silent, whom he
remembers very well."
"I have never heard any one speak of Teunis the Silent."
"Nor ever will! It is not my _métier_, as the French students used to say.
Well, then, I will turn back with you; but the punch will all be gone,
mark my words. I saw Johnson and Watts and their party headed for the bowl
five-and-twenty minutes ago. We shall get not so much as a lemon-seed. But
I sacrifice myself."
We entered the room, and my eyes were drawn, as by the force of a million
magnets, to the place where Daisy sat.
For the moment she was unattended. She was very beautifully attired, and
jewels glistened from her hair and throat. Her eyes were downcast--looking
upon the waxed floor as if in meditation. Even to this sudden, momentary
glance, her fair face looked thinner and paler than I remembered it--and
ah, how well did I remember it! With some muttered word of explanation I
broke away from my companion, and went straight to her.
She had not noted my presence or approach, and only looked up when I stood
before her. There was not in her face the look of surprise which I had
expected. She smiled in a wan way, and gave me her hand.
"I knew you were here," she said, in a soft voice which I scarcely
recognized, so changed, I might say saddened, was it by the introduction
of some plaintive, minor element. "Philip told me. I thought that sooner
or later I should see you."
"And I have thought of little else but the chance of seeing you," I
replied, speaking what was in my heart, with no reflection save that this
was our Daisy, come into my life again.
She was silent for a moment, her eyes seeking the floor and a faint glow
coming upon her cheeks. Then she raised them to my face, with something of
the old sparkle in their glance.
"Well, then," she said, drawing aside her skirts, "sit here, and see me."
A Foolish and Vexatious Quarrel Is Thrust Upon Me.
I sat beside Daisy, and we talked. It was at the beginning a highly
superficial conversation, as I remember it, during which neither looked at
the other, and each made haste to fill up any threatened lapse into
silence by words of some sort, it mattered not much what.
She told me a great deal about Mr. Stewart's health, which I learned was
far less satisfactory than his letters had given reason to suspect. In
reply to questions, I told her of my business and my daily life here in
Albany. I did not ask her in return about herself. She seemed eager to
forestall any possible inquiry on this point, and hastened to inform me as
to my old acquaintances in the Valley.
From her words I first realized how grave the situation there had suddenly
become. It was not only that opposition to the Johnsons had been openly
formulated, but feuds of characteristic bitterness had sprung up within
families, and between old-time friends, in consequence. Colonel Henry
Frey, who owned the upper Canajoharie mills, took sides with the Tories,
and had fiercely quarrelled with his brother John, who was one of the Whig
Committee. There was an equally marked division in the Herkimer family,
where one brother, Hon-Yost Herkimer, and his nephew, outraged the others
by espousing the Tory cause. So instances might be multiplied. Already on
one side there were projects of forcible resistance, and on the other ugly
threats of using the terrible Indian power, which hung portentous on the
western skirt of the Valley, to coerce the Whigs.
I gained from this recital, more from her manner than her words, that her
sympathies were with the people and not with the aristocrats. She went on
to say things which seemed to offer an explanation of this.
The tone of Valley society, at least so far as it was a reflection of
Johnson Hall, had, she said, deteriorated wofully since the old baronet's
death. A reign of extravagance and recklessness both as to money and
temper--of gambling, racing, hard drinking, low sports, and coarse
manners--had set in. The friends of Sir John were now a class by
themselves, having no relations to speak of with the body of Whig farmers,
merchants, inn-keepers, and the like. Rather it seemed to please the Tory
clique to defy the good opinion of their neighbors, and show by very
excess and license contempt for their judgment. Some of the young men whom
I had known were of late sadly altered. She spoke particularly of Walter
Butler, whose moodiness had now been inflamed, by dissipation and by the
evil spell which seemed to hang over everything in the Valley, into a
sinister and sombre rage at the Whigs, difficult to distinguish sometimes
In all this I found but one reflection--rising again and again as she
spoke--and this was that she was telling me, by inference, the story of
her own unhappiness.
Daisy would never have done this consciously--of that I am positive. But
it was betrayed in every line of her face, and my anxious ear caught it in
every word she uttered as to the doings of the Johnson party. Doubtless
she did not realize how naturally and closely I would associate her
husband with that party.
Underneath all our talk there had been, on both sides, I dare say, a sense
of awkward constraint. There were so many things which we must not speak
of--things which threatened incessantly to force their way to the surface.
I thought of them all, and wondered how much she knew of the events that
preceded my departure--how much she guessed of the heart-breaking grief
with which I had seen her go to another. It came back to me now, very
vividly, as I touched the satin fold of her gown with my shoe, and said to
myself, "This is really she."
The two years had not passed so uncomfortably, it is true; work and
pre-occupation and the change of surroundings had brought me back my peace
of mind and taken the keen edge from my despair--which was to have been
life-long, and had faded in a month. Yet now her simple presence--with the
vague added feeling that she was unhappy--sufficed to wipe out the whole
episode of Albany, and transport me bodily back to the old Valley days. I
felt again all the anguish at losing her, all the bitter wrath at the
triumph of my rival--emphasized and intensified now by the implied
confession that he had proved unworthy.
To this gloom there presently succeeded, by some soft, subtle transition,
the consciousness that it was very sweet to sit thus beside her. The air
about us seemed suddenly filled with some delicately be-numbing influence.
The chattering, smiling, moving throng was here, close upon us, enveloping
us in its folds. Yet we were deliciously isolated. Did she feel it as
I looked up into her face. She had been silent for I know not how long,
following her thoughts as I had followed mine. It was almost a shock to me
to find that the talk had died away, and I fancied that I read a kindred
embarrassment in her eyes. I seized upon the first subject which
entered my head.
"Tulp would be glad to see you," I said, foolishly enough.
She colored slightly, and opened and shut her fan in a nervous way. "Poor
Tulp!" she said, "I don't think he ever liked me as he did you. Is
"He has never been quite the same since--since he came to Albany. He is a
faithful body-servant now--nothing more."
"Yes," she said, softly, with a sigh; then, after a pause, "Philip spoke
of offering to make good to you your money loss in Tulp, but I told him he
would better not."
"It _was_ better not," I answered.
Silence menaced us again. I did not find myself indignant at this
insolent idea of the Englishman's. Instead, my mind seemed to distinctly
close its doors against the admission of his personality. I was near
Daisy, and that was enough; let there be no thoughts of him whatsoever.
"You do Tulp a wrong," I said. "Poor little fellow! Do you remember--" and
so we drifted into the happy, sunlit past, with its childish memories for
both of games and forest rambles, and innocent pleasures making every day
a little blissful lifetime by itself, and all the years behind our parting
one sweet prolonged delight.
Words came freely now; we looked into each other's faces without
constraint, and laughed at the pastimes we recalled. It was so pleasant to
be together again, and there was so much of charm for us both in the time
which we remembered together.
Sir John Johnson and his party had left the punch--or what remained of
it--and came suddenly up to us. Behind the baronet I saw young Watts,
young De Lancey, one or two others whom I did not know, and, yes!--it was
He had altered in appearance greatly. The two years had added much flesh
to his figure, which was now burly, and seemed to have diminished his
stature in consequence. His face, which even I had once regarded as
handsome, was hardened now in expression, and bore an unhealthy, reddish
hue. For that matter, all these young men were flushed with drink, and had
entered rather boisterously, attracting attention as they progressed. This
attention was not altogether friendly. Some of the ladies had drawn in
their skirts impatiently, as they passed, and beyond them I saw a group of
Dutch friends of mine, among them Teunis, who were scowling dark looks at
Sir John recognized me as he approached, and deigned to say, "Ha!
Mauverensen--you here?" after a cool fashion, and not offering his hand.
I had risen, not knowing what his greeting would be like. It was only
decent now to say: "I was much grieved to hear of your honored father's
death last summer."
"Well you might be!" said polite Sir John. "He served you many a good
purpose. I saw you talking out yonder with Schuyler, that coward who dared
not go to Philadelphia and risk his neck for his treason. I dare say he,
too, was convulsed with grief over my father's death!"
"Perhaps you would like to tell Philip Schuyler to his face that he is a
coward," I retorted, in rising heat at the unprovoked insolence in his
tone. "There is no braver man in the Colony."
"But he didn't go to Philadelphia, all the same. He had a very pretty
scruple about subscribing his name to the hangman's list."
"He did not go for a reason which is perfectly well known--his illness
forbade the journey."
"Yes," sneered the baronet, his pale eyes shifting away from my glance;
"too ill for Philadelphia, but not too ill for New York, where, I am told,
he has been most of the time since your--what d'ye call it?--Congress
I grew angry. "He went there to bury General Bradstreet. That, also, is
well known. Information seems to reach the Valley but indifferently, Sir
John. Everywhere else people understand and appreciate the imperative
nature of the summons which called Colonel Schuyler to New York. The
friendship of the two men has been a familiar matter of knowledge this
fifteen years. I know not your notions of friendship's duties; but for a
gentleman like Schuyler, scarcely a mortal illness itself could serve to
keep him from paying the last respect to a friend whose death was such an
affliction to him."
Johnson had begun some response, truculent in tone, when an interruption
came from a most unexpected source. Philip Cross, who had looked at me
closely without betraying any sign of recognition, put his hand now on Sir
"Bradstreet?" he said. "Did I not know him? Surely he is the man who found
his friend's wife so charming that he sent that friend to distant
posts--to England, to Quebec, to Oswego, and Detroit--and amused himself
here at home during the husband's absence. I am told he even built a
mansion for her while the spouse was in London _on business._ So he is
I had felt the bitter purport of his words, almost before they were out.
It was a familiar scandal in the mouths of the Johnson coterie--this foul
assertion that Mrs. Schuyler, one of the best and most faithful of
helpmates, as witty as she was beautiful, as good as she was diligent, in
truth, an ideal wife, had pursued through many years a course of deceit
and dishonor, and that her husband, the noblest son of our Colony, had
been base enough to profit by it. Of all the cruel and malignant things to
which the Tories laid their mean tongues, this was the lowest and most
false. I could not refrain from putting my hand on my sword-hilt as
"Such infamous words as these are an insult to every gentleman, the world
over, who has ever presented a friend to his family!"
Doubtless there was apparent in my face, as in the exaggerated formality
of my bow to Cross, a plain invitation to fight. If there had not been,
then my manner would have wofully belied my intent. It was, in fact, so
plain that Daisy, who sat close by my side, and, like some others near at
hand, had heard every word that had passed, half-started to her feet and
clutched my sleeve, as with an appeal against my passionate purpose.
Her husband had not stirred from his erect and arrogant posture until he
saw his wife's frightened action. I could see that he noted this, and that
it further angered him. He also laid his hand on his sword now, and
frigidly inclined his wigged head toward me.
"I had not the honor of addressing you, sir," he said, in a low voice,
very much at variance with the expression in his eyes. "I had no wish to
exchange words with you, or with any of your sour-faced tribe. But if you
desire a conversation--a lengthy and more private conversation--I am at
your disposition. Let me say here, however,"--and he glanced with fierce
meaning at Daisy as he spoke--"I am not a Schuyler; I do not encourage
Even Sir John saw that this was too much.
"Come, come, Cross!" he said, going to his friend. "Your tongue runs away
with you." Then, in a murmur, he added: "Damn it, man! Don't drag your
wife into the thing. Skewer the Dutchman outside, if you like, and if you
are steady enough, but remember what you are about."
I could hear this muttered exhortation as distinctly as I had heard
Cross's outrageous insult. Sir John's words appealed to me even more than
they did to his companion. I was already ashamed to have been led into a
display of temper and a threat of quarrelling, here in the company of
ladies, and on such an occasion. We were attracting attention, moreover,
and Teunis and some of his Dutch friends had drawn nearer, evidently
understanding that a dispute was at hand. The baronet's hint about Daisy
completed my mortification. _I_ should have been the one to think of her,
to be restrained by her presence, and to prevent, at any cost, her name
being associated with the quarrel by so much as the remotest inference.
So I stood irresolute, with my hand still on my sword, and black rage
still tearing at my heart, but with a mist of self-reproach and indecision
before my eyes, in which lights, costumes, powdered wigs, gay figures
about me, all swam dizzily.
Stephen Watts, a man in manner, though a mere stripling in years, had
approached me from the other group, a yard off, in a quiet way to avoid
observation. He whispered:
"There must be no quarrel _here_, Mr. Mauverensen. And there must be no
notice taken of his last words--spoken in heat, and properly due, I dare
say, to the punch rather than to the man."
"I feel that as deeply as you can," I replied.
"I am glad," said Watts, still in a sidelong whisper. "If you must fight,
let there be some tolerable pretext."
"We have one ready standing," I whispered back. "When we last met I warned
him that at our next encounter I should break every bone in his skin. Is
not that enough?"
"Capital! Who is your friend?"
By some remarkable intuition my kinsman Teunis was prompted to advance at
this. I introduced the two young men to each other, and they sauntered
off, past where Sir John was still arguing with Cross, and into the outer
hall. I stood watching them till they disappeared, then looking aimlessly
at the people in front of me, who seemed to belong to some strange
It was Daisy's voice which awakened me from this species of trance. She
spoke from behind her fan, purposely avoiding looking up at me.
"You are going to fight--you two!" she murmured.
I could not answer her directly, and felt myself flushing with
embarrassment. "He spoke in heat," I said, stumblingly. "Doubtless he will
apologize--to you, at least."
"You do not know him. He would have his tongue torn out before he would
admit his wrong, or any sorrow for it."
To this I could find no reply. It was on my tongue's end to say that men
who had a pride in combining obstinacy with insolence must reap what they
sow, but I wisely kept silence.
She went on:
"Promise me, Douw, that you will not fight. It chills my heart, even the
thought of it. Let it pass. Go away now--anything but a quarrel! I
"'Tis more easily said than done," I muttered back to her. "Men cannot
slip out of du--out of quarrels as they may out of coats."
"For my sake!" came the whisper, with a pleading quaver in it, from behind
"It is all on one side, Daisy," I protested. "I must be ridden over,
insulted, scorned, flouted to my face--and pocket it all! That is a
nigger's portion, not a gentleman's. You do not know what I have
"Do I not? Ah, too well! For my sake, Douw, for the sake of our memories
of the dear old home, I implore you to avoid an encounter. Will you
"It makes a coward out of me! Every Tory in the two counties will cackle
over the story that a Dutchman, a Whig, was affronted here under the
Patroon's very roof, and dared not resent it."
"How much do you value their words? Must a thing be true for them to say
it? The real manhood is shown in the strength of restraint, not the
weakness of yielding to the impulse of the moment. And you can be strong
if you choose, Douw!"
While I still pondered these words Teunis Van Hoorn returned to me, having
finished his consultation with Watts, whom I now saw whispering to Sir
John and the others who clustered about Cross.
The doctor was in good spirits. He sidled up to me, uttering aloud some
merry commonplace, and then adding, in a low tone:
"I was a match for him. He insisted that they were the aggrieved party,
and chose swords. I stuck to it that we occupied that position, and had
the right to choose pistols. You are no Frenchman, to spit flesh with a
wire; but you _can_ shoot, can't you? If we stand to our point, they
I cast a swift glance toward the sweet, pleading face at my side, and made
"I will not fight!"
My kinsman looked at me with surprise and vexation.
"No," I went on, "it is not our way here. You have lived so long abroad
that duelling seems a natural and proper thing. But we stay-at-homes no
more recognize the right of these English fops to force their fighting
customs upon us than we rush to tie our hair in queues because it is
I will not pretend that I was much in love with the line of action thus
lamely defended. To the contrary, it seemed to me then a cowardly and
unworthy course; but I had chosen it, and I could not retreat.
There was upon the moment offered temptation enough to test my resolution
Many of the ladies had in the meantime left the room, not failing to let
it be seen that they resented the wrangling scene which had been thrust
upon them. Mistress Daisy had crossed the floor to where Lady Johnson
stood, with others, and this frightened group were now almost our sole
Philip Cross shook himself loose from the restraining circle of friends,
and strode toward me, his face glowing darkly with passion, and his
"You run away, do you?" he said. "I have a mind, then, to thrash you where
you stand, you canting poltroon! Do you hear me?--here, where you stand!"
"I hear you," I made answer, striving hard to keep my voice down and my
resolution up. "Others hear you, too. There are ladies in the room. If you
have any right to be among gentlemen, it is high time for you to show it.
You are acting like a blackguard."
"Hear the preaching Dutchman!" he called out, with a harsh, scornful
laugh, to those behind him. "He will teach me manners, from his
hiding-place behind the petticoats.--Come out, you skunk-skin pedler, and
I'll break that sword of yours over your back!"
Where this all would have ended I cannot tell. My friends gathered around
beside me, and at my back. Cross advanced a step or two nearer to me, his
companions with him. I felt, rather than saw, the gestures preceding the
drawing of swords. I cast a single glance toward the group of women across
the room--who, huddled together, were gazing at us with pale faces and
fixed eyes--and I dare say the purport of my glance was that I had borne
all I could, and that the results were beyond my control--when suddenly
there came an unlooked-for interruption.
The dignified, sober figure of Abraham Ten Broeck appeared in our wrathful
circle. Some one had doubtless told him, in the outer hall, of the
quarrel, and he had come to interfere. A hush fell over us all at
"What have we here, gentlemen?" asked the merchant, looking from one to
another of our heated faces with a grave air of authority. "Are you well
advised to hold discussions here, in what ought to be a pleasant and
No ready answer was forthcoming. The quarrel was none of my manufacture,
and it was not my business to explain it to him. The Tories were secretly
disgusted, I fancy, with the personal aspects of the dispute, and had
nothing to say. Only Cross, who unfortunately did not know the new-comer,
and perhaps would not have altered his manner if he had known him, said
"The matter concerns us alone, sir. It is no affair of outsiders."
I saw the blood mount to Mr. Ten Broeck's dark cheeks, and the fire flash
in his eyes. But the Dutch gentleman kept tight bit on his tongue
"Perhaps I am not altogether an outsider, young sir," he replied, calmly.
"It might be thought that I would have a right to civil answers here."
"Who is he?" asked Cross, contemptuously turning his head toward Sir John.
Mr. Ten Broeck took the reply upon himself. "I am the uncle and guardian
of your boy-host," he said, quietly. "In a certain sense I am myself your
host--though it may be an honor which I shall not enjoy again."
There was a stateliness and solidity about this rebuke which seemed to
impress even my headstrong antagonist. He did not retort upon the instant,
and all who listened felt the tension upon their emotions relaxed. Some on
the outskirts began talking of other things, and at least one of the
principals changed his posture with a sense of relief.
Philip Cross presently went over to where the ladies stood, exchanged a
few words with them, and then with his male friends left the room,
affecting great composure and indifference. It was departing time; the
outer hall was beginning to display cloaks, hoods, and tippets, and from
without could be heard the voices of the negroes, bawling out demands for
I had only a momentary chance of saying farewell to Daisy. Doubtless I
ought to have held aloof from her altogether, but I felt that to be
impossible. She gave me her hand, looking still very pale and distrait,
and murmured only, "It was brave of you, Douw."
I did not entirely agree with her, so I said in reply: "I hope you will
be happy, dear girl; that I truly hope. Give my love and duty to Mr.
Stewart, and--and if I may be of service to you, no matter in how exacting
or how slight a matter, I pray you command me."
We exchanged good-byes at this, with perfunctory words, and then she left
me to join Lady Johnson and to depart with their company.
Later, when I walked homeward with Teunis, sauntering in the moonlight, he
imparted something to me which he had heard, in confidence of course, from
one of the ladies who had formed the anxious little group that watched
"After Ten Broeck came in, Cross went over to his wife, and brusquely said
to her, in the hearing of her friends, that your acquaintance with her was
an insult to him, and that he forbade her ever again holding converse
We walked a considerable time in silence after this, and I will not essay
to describe for you my thoughts. We had come into the shadow of the old
Dutch church in the square, I know, before Teunis spoke again.
"Be patient yet a little longer, Douw," he said. "The break must come soon
now, and then we will drive all these insolent scoundrels before us
into the sea!"
I shook hands with him solemnly on this, as we parted.
Containing Other News Besides that from Bunker Hill.
To pass from October, 1774, to mid-June of 1775--from the moonlit streets
of sleeping Albany to the broad noonday of open revolt in the Mohawk
Valley--is for the reader but the turning of a page with his fingers. To
us, in those trying times, these eight months were a painfully
long-drawn-out period of anxiety and growing excitement.
War was coming surely upon us--and war under strange and sinister
conditions. Dull, horse-racing, dog-fighting noblemen were comforting
themselves in Parliament, at London, by declaring that the Americans were
cowards and would not fight. We boasted little, but we knew ourselves
better. There was as yet small talk of independence, of separation.
Another year was to elapse before Thomas Paine's _Common Sense_ should
flash a flood of light as from some new sun upon men's minds, and show us
both our real goal and the way to attain it. But about fighting, we had
resolved our purpose.
We should have been slaves otherwise.
Turn and turn about, titled imbecile had succeeded distinguished incapable
at London in the task of humiliating and bullying us into subjection. Now
it was Granville, now Townshend, now Bedford, now North--all tediously
alike in their refusal to understand us, and their slow obstinacy of
determination to rule us in their way, not in ours. To get justice, or
even an intelligent hearing, from these people, was hopeless. They
listened to their own little clique in the colonies--a coterie of
officials, land-owners, dependents of the Crown, often men of too
worthless a character to be tolerated longer in England--who lied us
impudently and unblushingly out of court. To please these gentry, the
musty statutes of Tudor despotism were ransacked for a law by which we
were to be haled over the seas for trial by an English jury for sedition;
the port of Boston was closed to traffic, and troops crowded into the town
to overawe and crush its citizens; a fleet of war-ships was despatched
under Lord Howe to enforce by broadsides, if needs be, the wicked and
stupid trade and impost laws which we resented; everywhere the Crown
authorities existed to harass our local government, affront such honest
men as we selected to honor, fetter or destroy our business, and eat up
our substance in wanton taxation.
There had been a chance that the new Parliament, meeting for the first
time in the January of this 1775, would show more sense, and strive to
honestly set matters right. We had appealed from Crown and Commons to the
English people; for a little we fancied the result might be favorable. But
the hope speedily fell to the ground. The English, with that strange
rushing of blood to the head which, from age to age, on occasion blinds
their vision, confuses their judgment, and impels them to rude and brutal
courses, decreed in their choler that we should be flogged at the
To this we said no!
In Albany, on this day in the latter part of June, when the thread of the
story is again resumed, there were notable, but distressingly vague,
tidings. Following upon the blow struck at Concord in April, a host of
armed patriots, roughly organized into something like military form, were
investing Boston, and day by day closing in the cordon around the
beleaguered British General Gage. A great battle had been fought near the
town--this only we knew, and not its result or character. But it meant
War, and the quiet burgh for the nonce buzzed with the hum of
The windows of my upper room were open, and along with the streaming
sunlight came snatches of echoing words from the street below. Men had
gone across the river, and horses were to be posted farther on upon the
Berkshire turnpike, to catch the earliest whisper from across the
mountains of how the fight had gone. No one talked of anything else.
Assuredly I too would have been on the street outside, eager to learn and
discuss the news from Boston, but that my old friend Major Jelles Fonda
had come down from Caughnawaga, bearing to me almost as grave intelligence
from the Mohawk Valley.
How well I remember him still, the good, square-set, solid
merchant-soldier, with his bold broad face, resolute mouth, and calm,
resourceful, masterful air! He sat in his woollen shirt-sleeves, for the
day was hot, and slowly unfolded to me his story between meditative and
deliberate whiffs of his pipe. I listened with growing interest, until at
last I forgot to keep even one ear upon the sounds from the street, which
before had so absorbed me. He had much to tell.
More than a month before, the two contending factions had come to
fisticuffs, during a meeting held by the Whigs in and in front of John
Veeder's house, at Caughnawaga. They were to raise a liberty pole there,
and the crowd must have numbered two hundred or more. While they were
deliberating, up rides Guy Johnson, his short, pursy figure waddling in
the saddle, his arrogant, high-featured face redder than ever with rage.
Back of him rode a whole company of the Hall cabal--Sir John Johnson,
Philip Cross, the Butlers, and so on--all resolved upon breaking up the
meeting, and supported by a host of servants and dependents, well armed.
Many of these were drunk. Colonel Guy pushed his horse into the crowd, and
began a violent harangue, imputing the basest motives to those who had
summoned them thither. Young Jake Sammons, with the characteristic
boldness of his family, stood up to the Indian superintendent and answered
him as he deserved, whereat some half-dozen of the Johnson men fell upon
Jake, knocked him down, and pummelled him sorely. Some insisted that it
was peppery Guy himself who felled the youngster with his loaded
riding-whip, but on this point Major Jelles was not clear.
"But what were our people about, to let this happen?" I asked, with some
"To tell the truth," he answered, regretfully, "they mostly walked away.
Only a few of us held our place. Our men were unarmed, for one thing.
Moreover, they are in awe of the power of the Hall. The magistrates, the
sheriff, the constables, the assessors--everybody, in fact, who has office
in Tryon County--take orders from the Hall. You can't get people to forget
that. Besides, if they had resisted, they would have been shot down."
Major Jelles went on to tell me, that, despite this preponderance of armed
force on the side of the Johnsons, they were visibly alarmed at the temper
of the people and were making preparations to act on the defensive. Sir
John had set up cannon on the eminence crowned by the Hall, and his Roman
Catholic Highlanders were drilling night and day to perfect themselves as
a military body. All sorts of stories came down from Johnstown and up from
Guy Park, as to the desperate intentions of the aristocrats and their
retainers. Peculiarly conspicuous in the bandying of these threats were
Philip Cross and Walter Butler, who had eagerly identified themselves with
the most violent party of the Tories. To them, indeed, was directly
traceable the terrible rumor, that, if the Valley tribes proved to have
been too much spoiled by the missionaries, the wilder Indians were to be
called down from the headwaters of the Three Rivers, and from the Lake
plains beyond, to coerce the settlements in their well-known fashion, if
rebellion was persisted in.
"But they would never dare do that!" I cried rising to my feet.
"Why not?" asked Jelles, imperturbably sucking at his pipe. "After all,
that is their chief strength. Make no mistake! They are at work with the
red-skins, poisoning them against us. Guy Johnson is savage at the
mealy-mouthed way in which they talked at his last council, at Guy Park,
and he has already procured orders from London to remove Dominie Kirkland,
the missionary who has kept the Oneidas heretofore friendly to us. That
means--You can see as well as the rest of us what it means."
"It means war in the Valley--fighting for your lives."
"Well, let it! My customers owe me three thousand pounds and more. I will
give every penny of that, and as much besides, and fight with my gun from
the windows of my house, sooner than tolerate this Johnson nonsense any
longer. And my old father and my brothers say it with me. My brother Adam,
he thinks of nothing but war these days; he can hardly attend to his work,
his head is so full of storing powder, and collecting cherry and red maple
for gun-stocks, and making bullets. That reminds me--Guy Johnson took all
the lead weights out of the windows at Guy Park, and hid them, to keep
them from our bullet-moulds, before he ran away."
"Before he ran away? Who ran away?"
"Why, Guy, of course," was the calm reply.
I stared at the man in open-mouthed astonishment. "You never mentioned
this!" I managed to say at last.
"I hadn't got to it yet," the Dutchman answered, filling his pipe slowly.
"You young people hurry one so."
By degrees I obtained the whole story from him--the story which he had
purposely come down, I believe, to tell me. As he progressed, my fancy ran
before him, and pictured the conclave of desperate plotters in the great
Hall on the hill which I knew so well.
I needed not his assurances to believe that Molly Brant, who had come down
from the upper Mohawk Castle to attend this consultation, led and spurred
on all the rest into malevolent resolves.
I could conceive her, tall, swart, severely beautiful still, seated at the
table where in Sir William's time she had been mistress, and now was but a
visitor, yet now as then every inch a queen. I could see her watching with
silent intentness--first the wigged and powdered gentlemen, Sir John,
Colonel Guy, the Butlers, Cross, and Claus, and then her own brother
Joseph, tall like herself, and darkly handsome, but, unlike her,
engrafting upon his full wolf-totem Mohawk blood the restraints of tongue
and of thought learned in the schools of white youth. No one of the males,
Caucasian or aboriginal, spoke out clearly what was in their minds. Each
in turn befogged his suggestions by deference to what the world--which to
them meant London--would think of their acts. No one, not even Joseph
Brant, uttered bluntly the one idea which lay covert in their hearts--to
wit: that the recalcitrant Valley should be swept as with a besom of fire
and steel in the hands of the savage horde at their command. This, when
it came her time, the Indian woman said for them frankly, and with
scornful words on their own faint stomachs for bloodshed. I could fancy
her darkling glances around the board, and their regards shrinking away
from her, as she called them cowards for hesitating to use in his interest
the powers with which the king had intrusted them.
It was not hard, either, to imagine young Walter Butler and Philip Cross
rising with enthusiasm to approve her words, or how these, speaking hot
and fast upon the echo of Mistress Molly's contemptuous rebuke, should
have swept away the last restraining fears of the others, and committed
all to the use of the Indians.
So that day, just a week since, it had been settled that Colonel Guy and
the two Butlers, father and son, should go west, ostensibly to hold a
council near Fort Schuyler, but really to organize the tribes against
their neighbors; and promptly thereafter, with a body of retainers, they
had departed. Guy had taken his wife, because, as a daughter of the great
Sir William, she would be of use in the work; but Mrs. John Butler had
gone to the Hall--a refuge which she later was to exchange for the lower
The two houses thus deserted--Guy Park and the Butlers' home on Switzer's
Hill--had been in a single night almost despoiled by their owners of their
contents; some of which, the least bulky, had been taken with them in
their flight, the residue given into safe-keeping in the vicinity,
"My brother Adam went to look for the lead in the windows," honest Jelles
Fonda concluded, "but it was all gone. So their thoughts were on bullets
as well as his. He has his eye now on the church roof at home."
Here was news indeed! There could be no pretence that the clandestine
flight of these men was from fear for their personal safety. To the
contrary, Colonel Guy, as Indian superintendent, had fully five hundred
fighting men, Indian and otherwise, about his fortified residence. They
had clearly gone to enlist further aid, to bring down fresh forces to
assist Sir John, Sheriff White, and their Tory minions to hold Tryon
County in terror, and, if need be, to flood it with our blood.
We sat silent for a time, as befitted men confronting so grave a