The Maid of Maiden Lane eBook

Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about The Maid of Maiden Lane.

“He has gone to Elder Semple’s house.  You know—­”

“I know well.  For a long time I have purposed to call on the old gentleman, and what I have neglected I am now justly denied.  I meant, at least, to pay him the last respect; but even that is to-day impossible.  For I must leave for England this afternoon at five o’clock, and I have more to do than I can well accomplish.”

George leaped to his feet at these words.  Nothing could have been more unexpected; but that is the way with Destiny, her movements are ever unforeseen and inevitable.  “Sir,” he cried, “what has happened?”

“Your uncle is dying—­perhaps dead.  I received a letter this morning urging me to take the first packet.  The North Star sails this afternoon, and I do not wish to miss her, for she flies English colours, and they are the only ones the Barbary pirates pretend to respect.  Now, George, you must come with me to Mr. Hamilton’s office; we have much business to arrange there; then, while I pay a farewell visit to the President, you can purchase for me the things I shall require for the voyage.”

So far his manner had been peremptory and decided, but, suddenly, a sweet and marvellous change occurred.  He went close to Madame Van Heemskirk, and taking both her hands, said in a voice full of those tones that captivate women’s hearts—­

“Mother! mother!  I bid you a loving, grateful farewell!  You have ever been to me good, and gentle, and wise—­the very best of mothers.  God bless you!” Then he kissed her with a solemn tenderness, and Lysbet understood that he believed their parting to be a final one.  She sat down, weeping, and Hyde with an authoritative motion of the head, commanding his son’s attendance, went hastily out.  It was then eleven o’clock, and there was business that kept both men hurrying here and there until almost the last hour.  It had been agreed that they were to meet at the City Hotel at four o’clock; and soon after that hour General Hyde joined his son.  He looked weary and sad, and began immediately to charge George concerning his mother.

“We parted with kisses and smiles this morning,” he said; “and I am glad of it; if I went back, we should both weep; and a wet parting is not a lucky one.  I leave her in your charge, George; and when I send her word to come to England, look well to her comfort.  And be sure to come with her.  Do you hear me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“On no account—­even if she wishes it—­permit her to come alone.  Promise me.”

“I promise you, sir.  What is there that I would not do for my mother?  What is there I would not do to please you, sir?”

“Let me tell you, George, such words are very sweet to me.  As to yourself, I do not fear for you.  It is above, and below reason, that you should do anything to shame your kindred, living or dead—­the living indeed, you might reconcile; the dead are implacable; and their vengeance is to be feared.”

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The Maid of Maiden Lane from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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