Hush! Love is Here!
The Maid of Maiden Lane
Author:Amelia E. Barr

On the morning that Hyde sailed for America, Cornelia received the letter he had written her on the discovery of Rem's dishonourable conduct. So much love, so much joy, sent to her in the secret foldings of a sheet of paper! In a hurry of delight and expectation she opened it, and her beaming eyes ran all over the joyful words it brought her-- sweet fluttering pages, that his breath had moved, and his face been aware of. How he would have rejoiced to see her pressing them to her bosom, at some word of fonder memory or desire.

There was much in this letter which it was necessary her father and mother should hear--the Earl's message to them--Hyde's own proposition for an immediate marriage, and various necessities referring to this event. But she was proud and happy to read words of such noble, straightforward affection; and the Doctor was especially pleased by the deference expressed for his wishes. When he left the house that day he kissed his daughter with pride and tenderness, and said to Mrs. Moran-"Ava, there will be much to get, and much to do in a short time, but money manages all things Do not spare where it is necessary." And then what important and interesting consultations followed! what lists of lovely garments became imperative, which an hour before had not been dreamed of! what discussions as to mantua makers and milliners! as to guests and ceremonies! as to all the details of a life unknown, but invested by love and youth, with a delightfully overwhelming importance.

Cornelia was so happy that her ordinary dress of grey camelot did not express her; she felt constrained to add to it some bows of bright scarlet ribbon, and then she looked round about her room, and went through her drawers, to find something else to be a visible witness to the light heart singing within her. And she came across some coral combs that Madame Jacobus had given her, and felt their vivid colouring in the shining masses of her dark hair, to be one of the right ways of saying to herself, and all she loved, "See how happy I am!"

In the afternoon, when the shopping for the day had been accomplished, she went to Captain Jacobus, to play with him the game of backgammon which had become an almost daily duty, and to which the Captain attached a great importance. Indeed, for many weeks it had been the event of every day to him; and if he was no longer dependent on it, he was grateful enough to acknowledge all the good it had done him. "I owe your daughter as much as I owe you, sir," he would say to Doctor Moran, "and I owe both of you a bigger debt than I can clear myself of."

This afternoon he looked at his visitor with a wondering speculation. There was something in her face, and manner, and voice, he had never before seen or heard, and madame--who watched every expression of her husband--was easily led to the same observation. She observed Cornelia closely, and her gay laugh especially revealed some change. It was like the burst of bird song in early spring, and she followed the happy girl to the front door, and called her back when she had gone down the steps, and said, as she looked earnestly in her face-"You have heard from Joris Hyde? I know you have!" and Cornelia nodded her head, and blushed, and smiled, and ran away from further question.

When she reached home she found Madame Van Heemskirk sitting with her mother, and the sweet old lady rose to meet her, and said before Cornelia could utter a word: "Come to me, Cornelia. This morning a letter we have had from my Joris, and sorry am I that I did thee so much wrong."

"Madame, I have long ago forgotten it; and there was a mistake all round," answered Cornelia, cheerfully.

"That is so--and thy mistake first of all. Hurry is misfortune; even to be happy, it is not wise to hurry. Listen now! Joris has written to his grandfather, and also to me, and very busy he will keep us both. His grandfather is to look after the stables and the horses, and to buy more horses, and to hire serving men of all kinds. And a long letter also I have had from my daughter Katherine, and she tells me to make her duty to thee my duty. That is my pleasure also, and I have been talking with thy mother about the house. Now I shall go there, and a very pleasant home I shall make it. Many things Joris will bring with him--two new carriages and much fine furniture--and I know not what else beside."

Then Cornelia kissed madame, and afterwards removed her bonnet; and madame looked at her smiling. The vivid coral in her dark hair, the modest grey dress with its knots of colour, and above all the lovely face alight with love and hope, delighted her.

"Very pretty art thou, very pretty indeed!" she said, impulsively; and then she added, "Many other girls are very pretty also, but my Joris loves thee, and I am glad that it is thee, and very welcome art thou to me, and very proud is my husband of thee. And now I must go, because there is much to do, and little time to do it in."

For nearly a week Cornelia was too busy to take Arenta into her consideration. She did not care to tell her about Rem's cruel and dishonourable conduct, and she was afraid the shrewd little Marquise would divine some change, and get the secret out of her. Indeed, Arenta was not long in suspecting something unusual in the Doctor's household-- the number of parcels and of work people astonished her; and she was not a little offended at Madame Van Heemskirk spending a whole afternoon so near to her, and "never even," as she said to her father, "turning her head this way." For Arenta had drunk a rather long draught of popular interest, and she could not bear to believe it was declining. Was she not the American heroine of 1793? It was almost a want of patriotism in Madame Van Heemskirk to neglect her.

After a week had elapsed Cornelia went over one morning to see her friend. But by this time Arenta knew everything. Her brother Rem had been with her and confessed all to his sister. It had not been a pleasant meeting by any means. She heard the story with indignation, but contrived to feel that somehow Rem was not so much to blame as Cornelia, and other people.

"You are right served," she said to her brother, "for meddling with foreigners, and especially for mixing your love affairs up with an English girl. Proud, haughty creatures all of them! And you are a very fool to tell any woman such a--crime. Yes, it is a crime. I won't say less. That girl over the way nearly died, and you would have let her die. It was a shame. I don't love Cornelia--but it was a shame."

"The letter was addressed to me, Arenta."

"Fiddlesticks! You knew it was not yours. You knew it was Hyde's. Where is it now?"

She asked the question in her usual dominant way, and Rem did not feel able to resist it. He looked for a moment at the angry woman, and was subdued by her air of authority. He opened his pocketbook and from a receptacle in it, took the fateful letter. She seized and read it, and then without a word, or a moment's hesitation threw it into the fire.

Rem blustered and fumed, and she stood smiling defiantly at him. "You are like all criminals," she said; "you must keep something to accuse yourself with. I love you too well to permit you to carry that bit of paper about you. It has worked you harm enough. What are you going to do? Is Miss Darner's refusal quite final?"

"Quite. It was even scornful."

"Plenty of nice girls in Boston."

"I cannot go back to Boston."

"Why then?"

"Because Mary's cousin has told the whole affair."

"Nonsense!"

"She has. I know it. Men, whom I had been friendly with, got out of my way; women excused themselves at their homes, and did not see me on the streets. I have no doubt all Boston is talking of the affair."

"Then come back to New York. New Yorkers attend strictly to their own love affairs. Father will stand by you; and I will."

"Father will not. He called me a scoundrel, when I told him last night, and advised me to go to the frontier. Joris Van Heemskirk will not talk, but madame will chatter for him, and I could not bear to meet Doctor Moran. As for Captain Jacobus, he would invent new words and oaths to abuse me with, and Aunt Angelica would, of course, say amen to all he says;--and there are others."

"Yes, there is Lord Hyde."

"Curse him! But I intended to give him his letter--now you have burnt it."

"You intended nothing of the kind, Rem. Go away as soon as you can. I don't want to know where you go just yet. New York is impossible, and Boston is impossible. Father says go to the frontier, I say go South. What you have done, you have done; and it cannot be undone; so don't carry it about with you. And I would let women alone--they are beyond you--go in for politics."

That day Rem lingered with his sister, seeing no one else; and in the evening shadows he slipped quietly away. He was very wretched, for he really loved Mary Damer, and his disappointment was bitterly keen and humiliating. Besides which, he felt that his business efforts for two years were forfeited, and that he had the world to begin over again. Without a friend to wish him a Godspeed the wretched man went on board the Southern packet, and in her dim lonely cabin sat silent and despondent, while she fought her way through swaying curtains of rain to the open sea. Its great complaining came up through the darkness to him, and seemed to be the very voice of the miserable circumstances, that had separated and estranged his life from all he loved and desired.

This sudden destruction of all her hopes for her brother distressed Arenta. Her own marriage had been a most unfortunate one, but its misfortunes had the importance of national tragedy. She had even plucked honour to herself from the bloody tumbril and guillotine. But Rem's matrimonial failure had not one redeeming quality; it was altogether a shameful and well-deserved retribution. And she had boasted to her friends not a little of the great marriage her brother was soon to make, and even spoken of Miss Damer, as if a sisterly affection already existed between them. She could anticipate very well the smiles and shrugs, the exclamations and condolences she might have to encounter, and she was not pleased with her brother for putting her in a position likely to make her disagreeable to people.

But the heart of her anger was Cornelia--" but for that girl," Rem would have married Mary Damer, and his home in Boston might have been full of opportunities for her, as well as a desirable change when she wearied of New York. Altogether it was a hard thing for her, as well as a dreadful sorrow for Rem; and she could not think of Cornelia without anger, "Just for her," she kept saying as she dressed herself with an elaborate simplicity, "Just for her! Very much she intruded herself into my affairs; my marriage was her opportunity with Lord Hyde, and now all she can do is to break up poor Rem's marriage."

When Cornelia entered the Van Ariens parlour Arenta was already there. She was dressed in a gown of the blackest and softest bombazine and crape. It had a distinguishing want of all ornament, but it was for that reason singularly effective against her delicate complexion and pale golden hair. She looked offended, and hardly spoke to her old friend, but Cornelia was prepared for some exhibition of anger. She had not been to see Arenta for a whole week, and she did not doubt she had been well aware of something unusual in progress. But that Rem had accused himself did not occur to her; therefore she was hardly prepared for the passionate accusations with which Arenta as**sailed her.

"I think," she said, "you have behaved disgracefully to poor Rem! You would not have him yourself, and yet you prevent another girl--whom he loves far better than ever he loved you--from marrying him. He has gone away 'out of the world,' he says, and indeed I should not wonder if he kills himself. It is most certain you have done all you can to drive him to it," "Arenta! I have no idea what you mean. I have not seen Rem, nor written to Rem, for more than two years."

"Very likely, but you have written about him. You wrote to Miss Darner, and told her Rem purposely kept a letter, which you had sent to Lord Hyde," "I did not write to Miss Damer. I do not know the lady. But Rem DID keep a letter that belonged to Lord Hyde."

Then anger gave falsehood the bit and she answered, "Rem did NOT keep any letter that belonged to Lord Hyde. Prove that he did so, before you accuse him. You cannot."

"I unfortunately directed Lord Hyde's letter to Rem, and Rem's letter to Lord Hyde. Rem knew that he had Lord Hyde's letter, and he should have taken it at once to him."

"Lord Hyde had Rem's letter; he ought to have taken it at once to Rem."

"There was not a word in Rem's letter to identify it as belonging to him."

"Then you ought to be ashamed to write love letters that would do for any man that received them. A poor hand you must be, to blunder over two love letters. I have had eight, and ten, at once to answer, and I never failed to distinguish each; and while rivers run into the sea I never shall misdirect my love letters. I do not believe Rem ever got your letter, and I will not believe it, either now or ever. I dare be bound, Balthazar lost it on the way. Prove to me he did not."

"Oh, indeed! I think you know better."

"Very clever is Lord Hyde to excuse himself by throwing the blame on poor Rein. Very mean indeed to accuse him to the girl he was going to marry. To be sure, any one with an ounce of common sense to guide them, must see through the whole affair."

"Arenta, I have the most firm conviction of Rem's guilt, and the greatest concern for his disappointment. I as**sure you I have."

"Kindly reserve your concern, Miss Moran, till Rem Van Ariens asks for it. As for his guilt, there is no guilt in question. Even supposing that Rem did keep Lord Hyde's letter, what then? All things are fair in love and war, Willie Nicholls told me last night, he would keep a hundred letters, if he thought he could win me by doing so. Any man of sense would."

"All I blame Rem for is--"

"All I blame Rem for is, that he asked you to marry him. So much for that! I hope if he meddles with women again, he will seek an all-round common-sense Dutch girl, who will know how to direct her letters--or else be content with one lover."

"Arenta, I shall go now. I have given you an opportunity to be rude and unkind. You cannot expect me to do that again."

She watched Cornelia across the street, and then turned to the mirror, and wound her ringlets over her fingers. "I don't care," she muttered. "It was her fault to begin with. She tempted Rem, and he fell. Men always fall when women tempt them; it is their nature to. I am going to stand by Rem, right or wrong, and I only wish I could tell Mary Damer what I think of her. She has another lover, of course she has--or she would not have talked about her 'honour' to Rem."

To such thoughts she was raging, when Peter Van Ariens came home to dinner, and she could not restrain them. He listened for a minute or two, and then struck the table no gentle blow?

"In my house, Arenta," he said, "I will have no such words. What you think, you think; but such thoughts must be shut close in your mind. In keeping that letter, I say Rem behaved like a scoundrel; he was cruel, and he was a coward. Because he is my son I will not excuse him. No indeed! For that very reason, the more angry am I at such a deed. Now then, he shall acknowledge to George Hyde and Cornelia Moran the wrong he did them, ere in my home and my heart, he rights himself."

"Is Cornelia going to be married?"

"That is what I hear."

"To Lord Hyde?"

"That also, is what I hear."

"Well, as I am in mourning, I cannot go to the wedding; so then I am delighted to have told her a little of my mind."

"It is a great marriage for the Doctor's daughter; a countess she will be."

"And a marquise I am. And will you please say, if either countess or marquise is better than mistress or madame? Thank all the powers that be! I have learned the value of a title, and I shall change marquise for mistress, as soon as I can do so."

"If always you had thought thus, a great deal of sorrow we had both been spared."

"Well, then, a girl cannot get her share of wisdom, till she comes to it. After all, I am now sorry I have quarrelled with Cornelia. In New York and Philadelphia she will be a great woman."

"To take offence is a great folly, and to give offence is a great folly-- I know not which is the greater, Arenta."

"Oh, indeed, father," she answered, "if I am hurt and angry, I shall take the liberty to say so. Anger that is hidden cannot be gratified; and if people use me badly, it is my way to tell them I am aware of it. One may be obliged to eat brown bread, but I, for one, will say it is brown bread, and not white."

"Your own way you will take, until into some great trouble you stumble."

"And then my own way I shall take, until out of it I stumble."

"I have told Rem what he must do. Like a man he must say, 'I did wrong, and I am sorry for it,' and so well I think of those he has wronged, as to be sure they will answer, 'It is forgiven.'"

"And forgotten."

"That is different. To forgive freely, is what we owe to our enemy; to forget not, is what we owe to ourselves."

"But if Rem's fault is forgiven, and not forgotten, what good will it do him? I have seen that every one forgives much in themselves that they find unpardonable in other people."

"In so far, Arenta, we are all at fault."

"I think it is cruel, father, to ask Rem to speak truth to his own injury. Even the law is kinder than you, it asks no man to accuse himself."

"Right wrongs no man. Till others move in this matter, you be quiet. If you talk, evil words you will say; and mind this, Arenta, the evil that comes out of your lips, into your own bosom will fall. All my life I have seen this."

But Arenta could not be quiet. She would sow thorns, though she had to walk unshod; and her father's advice moved her no more than a breath moves a mountain. In the same afternoon she saw Madame Jacobus going to Doctor Moran's, and the hour she remained there, was full of misery to her impetuous self-adoring heart. She was sure they were talking of Rem and herself; and as she had all their conversation to imagine, she came to conclusions in accord with her suspicions.

But she met her aunt at the door and brought her eagerly into the parlour. She had had no visitors that day, and was bored and restless and longing for conversation. "I saw you go to the Doctor's an hour ago, aunt," she said. "I hope the Captain is well."

"Jacobus is quite well, thank God and Doctor Moran--and Cornelia. I have been looking at some of her wedding gowns. A girl so happy, and who deserves to be so happy, I never saw. What a darling she is!"

"It is now the fashion to rave about her. I suppose they found time enough to abuse poor Rem. And you could listen to them! I would not have done so! No! not if listening had meant salvation for the whole Moran family."

"You are a remarkably foolish young woman. They never named Rem. People so happy, do not remember the bringer of sorrow. He has been shut out-- in the darkness and cold. But I heard from Madame Van Heemskirk why Cornelia and that delightful young man were not married two years ago. I am ashamed of Rem. I can never forgive him. He is a disgrace to the family. And that is why I came here to-day. I wish you to make Rem understand that he must not come near his Uncle Jacobus. When Jacobus is angry, he will call heaven and earth and hell to help him speak his mind, and I have nearly cured him of a habit which is so distressing to me, and such a great wrong to his own soul. The very sight of Rem would break every barrier down, and let a flood of words loose, that would make him suffer afterwards. I will not have Jacobus led into such temptation. I have not heard an oath from him for six months."

"I suppose you would never forgive Jacobus, if you did hear one?"

"That is another matter. I hope I have a heart to forgive whatever Jacobus does, or says--he is my husband."

"It is then less wicked to blaspheme Almighty God, than to keep one of Lord Hyde's love letters. One fault may be forgiven, the other is unpardonable. Dear me! how religiously ignorant I am. As for my uncle swearing--and the passions that thus express themselves--everybody knows that anything that distantly resembles good temper, will suit Captain Jacobus."

"You look extremely handsome when you are scornful, Arenta; but it is not worthwhile wasting your charms on me. I am doing what I can to help Jacobus to keep his tongue clean, and I will not have Rem lead him into temptation. As for Rem, he is guilty of a great wrong; and he must now do what his father told him to do--work day and night, as men work, when a bridge is broken down. The ruin must be got out of the way, and the bridge rebuilt, then it will be possible to open some pleasant and profitable traffic with human beings again--not to speak of heaven."

"You are right--not to speak of heaven, I think heaven would be more charitable. Rem will not trouble Captain Jacobus. For my part I think a man that cannot bear temptation is very poorly reformed. If my uncle could see Rem, and yet keep his big and little oaths under bonds, I should believe in his clean tongue."

"Arenta, you are tormenting yourself with anger and ill-will, and above all with jealousy. In this way you are going to miss a deal of pleasure. I advise you not to quarrel with Cornelia. She will be a great resource. I myself am looking forward to the delightful change Jacobus may have at Hyde Manor. It will make a new life for him, and also for me. This afternoon something is vexing you. I shall take no offence. You will regret your bad temper to-morrow."

To-morrow Arenta did regret; but people do not always say they are sorry, when they feel so. She sat in the shadow of her window curtains and watched the almost constant stream of visitors, and messengers, and tradespeople at Doctor Moran's house; and she longed to have her hands among the lovely things, and to give her opinion about the delightful events sure to make the next few weeks full of interest and pleasure. And after she had received a letter from Rem, she resolved to humble herself that she might be exalted.

"Rem is already fortunate, and I can't help him by fighting his battle. Forgetfulness, is the word. For this wrong can have no victory, and to be forgotten, is the only hope for it. Beside, Cornelia had her full share in my happiness, and I will not let myself be defrauded of my share in her happiness--not for a few words--no! certainly not."

This reflection a few times reiterated resulted in the following note-MY DEAR CORNELIA: I want to say so much, that I cannot say anything but--forgive me. I am shaken to pieces by my dreadful sufferings, and sometimes, I do not know what I say, even to those I love. Blame my sad fortune for my bad words, and tell me you long to forgive me, as I long to be forgiven. Your ARENTA.

"That will be sufficient," she reflected; "and after all, Cornelia is a sweet girl. I am her first and dearest friend, and I am determined to keep my place. It has made me very angry to see those Van Dien girls, and those Sherman girls, running in and out of the Moran house as if they owned Cornelia. Well then, if I have had to eat humble pie, I have had my say, and that takes the bitter taste out of my mouth--and a sensible woman must look to her future. I dare warrant, Cornelia is now answering my letter. I dare warrant, she will forgive me very sweetly."

She spent half-an-hour in such reflections, and then Cornelia entered with a smiling face. She would not permit Arenta to say another word of regret; she stifled all her self-reproaches in an embrace, and she took her back with her to her own home. And no further repentance embarrassed Arenta. She put her ready wit, and her clever hands to a score of belated things; and snubbed and contradicted the Van Dien and Sherman girls into a respectful obedience to her earlier friendship, and wider experience. Everything that she directed, or took charge of, went with an unmistakable vigour to completion; and even Madame Van Heemskirk was delighted with her ability, and grateful for her as**sistance.

"The poor Arenta!" she said to Mrs. Moran; "very helpful she is to us, and for her brother's fault she is not to blame. Wrong it would be to visit it on her."

And Arenta not only felt this gracious justice for herself, she looked much further forward, for she said to her father, "It is really for Rem's sake I am so obliging. By and by people will say 'there is no truth in that letter story. The Marquise is the friend of Lady Hyde; they are like clasped hands, and that could not be so, if Rem Van Ariens had done such a dreadful thing. It is all nonsense.' And if I hear a word about it, I shall know how to smile, and lift my shoulders, and kill suspicion with contempt. Yes, for Rem's sake, I have done the best thing."

So happily the time went on, that it appeared wonderful when Christmas was close at hand. Every preparation was then complete. The Manor House was a very picture of splendid comfort and day by day Cornelia's exquisite wardrobe came nearer to perfection. It was a very joy to go into the Moran house. The mother, with a happy light upon her face, went to-and-fro with that habitual sweet serenity, which kept the temperature of expectant pleasure at a degree not too exhausting for continuance. The doctor was so satisfied with affairs, that he was often heard timing his firm, strong steps to snatches of long forgotten military songs; and Cornelia, knowing her lover was every day coming nearer and nearer, was just as happy as a girl loving and well beloved, ought to be. Sorrow was all behind her, and a great joy was coming to meet her. Until mortal love should become immortal, she could hope for no sweeter interlude in life.

Her beauty had increased wonderfully; hope had more than renewed her youth, and confident love had given to her face and form, a splendour of colour and expression, that captivated everybody; though why, or how, they never asked--she charmed, because she charmed. She was the love, the honey, the milk of sweetest human nature.

One day the little bevy of feminine councillors looked at their work, and pronounced all beautiful, and all finished; and then there was a lull in the busy household, and then every one was conscious of being a little weary; and every one also felt, that it would be well to let heart, and brain, and fingers, and feet rest. In a few days there would likely be another English letter, and they could then form some idea as to when Lord Hyde would arrive. The last letter received from him had been written in London, and the ship in which he was to sail, was taking on her cargo, while he impatiently waited at his hotel for notice of her being ready to lift her anchor. The doctor thought it highly probable Hyde would follow this letter in a week, or perhaps less.

During this restful interval, Doctor and Mrs. Moran drove out one afternoon to Hyde Manor House. A message from Madame Van Heemskirk asked this favour from them; she wished naturally that they should see how exquisitely beautiful and comfortable was the home, which her Joris had trusted her to prepare for his bride. But she did not wish Cornelia to see it, until the bride-groom himself took her across its threshold. "An old woman's fancy it is," she said to Mrs. Moran; "but no harm is there in it, and not much do I like women who bustle about their houses, and have no fancies at all."

"Nor I," answered Mrs. Moran with a merry little laugh. "Do you know, that I told John to buy my wedding ring too wide, because I often heard my mother say that a tight wedding ring was unlucky." Then both women smiled, and began delightedly to look over together the stores of fine linen and damask, which the mother of Joris had laid up for her son's use.

It was a charming visit, and the sweet pause in the vivid life of the past few weeks, was equally charming to Cornelia. She rested in her room till the short daylight ended; then she went to the parlour and drank a cup of tea, and closed the curtains, and sat down by the hearth to wait for her father and mother. It was likely they would be a little late, but the moon was full and the sleighing perfect, and then she was sure they would have so much to tell her, when they did reach home.

So still was the house, so still was the little street, that she easily went to the land of reverie, and lost herself there. She thought over again all her life with her lover; recalled his sweet spirit, his loyal affection, his handsome face, and enchanting manner. "Heaven has made me so fortunate," she thought, "and now my fortune has arrived at my wishes. Even his delay is sweet. I desire to think of him, until all other thoughts are forgotten! Oh, what lover could be loved as I love him!"

Then with a soft but quick movement the door flew open, she lifted her eyes, to fill them with love's very image and vesture; and with a cry of joy flew to meet the bliss so long afar, but now so near. "O lovely and beloved! O my love!" Hyde cried, and then there was a twofold silence; the very ecstasy that no mortal words can utter. The sacred hour for which all their lives had longed, was at last dropt down to them from heaven. Between their kisses they spoke of things remembered, and of things to be, leaning to each other in visible sweetness, while "Love breathed in sighs and silences Through two blent souls, one rapturous undersong."