“And it is my grandson who is at her side. The rascal! He ought now to be reading his law books in Mr. Hamilton’s office. But what will you? The race of young men with old heads on their shoulders is not yet born— a God’s mercy it is not!”
“We also have been young, Van Heemskirk.”
“I forget not, my friend. My Joris sees not me, and I will not see him.” Then the two old men were silent, but their eyes were fixed on the youth and maiden, who were slowly advancing towards them; the sun’s westering rays making a kind of glory for them to walk in.
She might have stepped out of the folded leaves of a rosebud, so lovely was her face, framed in its dark curls, and shaded by a gypsy bonnet of straw tied under her chin with primrose-coloured ribbons. Her dress was of some soft, green material; and she carried in her hand a bunch of daffodils. She was small, but exquisitely formed, and she walked with fearlessness and distinction Yet there was around her an angelic gravity, and that indefinable air of solitude, which she had brought from innocent studies and long seclusion from the tumult and follies of life.
Of all this charming womanhood the young man at her side was profoundly conscious. He was the gallant gentleman of his day, hardly touching the tips of her fingers, but quite ready to fall on his knees before her. A tall, sunbrowned, military-looking young man, as handsome as a Greek god, with eyes of heroic form; lustrous, and richly fringed; and a beautiful mouth, at once sensitive and seductive. He was also very finely dressed, in the best and highest mode; and he wore his sword as if it were a part of himself. It was no more in his way than if it were his right arm. Indeed, all his movements were full of confidence and ease; and yet it was the vivacity, vitality, and ready response of his face that was most attractive.
His wonderful eyes were bent upon the maid at his side; he saw no other earthly thing. With a respectful eagerness, full of admiration, he talked to her; and she answered his words—whatever they were—with a smile that might have moved mountains. They passed the two old men without any consciousness of their presence, and Van Heemskirk smiled, and then sighed, and then said softly—
“So much youth, and beauty, and happiness! It is a benediction to have seen it! I shall not reprove Joris at this time. But now I must go back to Federal Hall; the question of the Capital makes me very anxious. Every man of standing must feel so.”