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HOME > Short Stories > The Peddler Spy > CHAPTER III. TWO DUTCH BEAUTIES.
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“Git eout,” said Boston, executing another flourish as he disappeared. “Two days, umph. Where will you be in two days, I should like to know? Now to business.”

He took up the pack and departed from head-quarters, going out upon the parade. There he was besieged by a score of Dutchmen, several of whom reproached him with bad faith in previous bargains, but did not fail to buy; indeed, Boston Bainbridge was gifted by nature with that shrewdness in a bargain which is characteristic of that famous town from whence he took his name; so gifted, indeed, that one of his own countrymen, who had been cheated by him, gave him the name, and it had stuck to him ever after.

Getting rid of his purchasers, he carried his diminished pack to the door of a house more pretentious than the others, situated upon the river bank. His knock brought to the door a Teutonic damsel, who started back in undisguised dismay at the sight of the hawker.

“Hist, Katrine,” said he; “don’t make a row. How are you?”

“What do you want, Boston?” replied the girl, quickly. “I will not join any scheme against the peace of my cousin.”

“Sho, now, who asked you? It seems to me, my dear, that you don’t seem glad to see me, after so long a time.”

“I ain’t. Don’t you know it’s dangerous to come here? You were in trouble enough before, cheat that you are; but now—”

“Well, what now?”

“I won’t tell. It’s enough for you to know that something besides a broken head will be yours if you stay. Take up your pack, for heaven’s sake, and be off about your business.”

Boston passed his arm about the waist of the buxom girl, and led her into the kitchen. There he dropped his pack,[28] drew her down upon his knee, and kissed her with hearty good-will. She struggled desperately, uttered a good many protests, and ended by returning his kisses in right good earnest.

“Dere now,” said Katrine, in her pretty English, just enough touched with the Teutonic element to give it a zest, “I hope you be satisfied. Now tell me why you come here? Be quiet, can’t you?”

The last exclamation was elicited by an attempt on the part of Boston to kiss her again. This she resisted, as in duty bound, until out of breath, and then yielded as before.

“You want to know why I am here. I came upon that which you would have sent me away on a while ago—business, and to see you.”

“Me! Far enough from Good Hope you would be, if only poor Katrine brought you here. Confess, now, you have other business?”

“Of course; I said so. Plenty of business, and you must help me, Katrine. But first, tell me what you meant by saying I should have something besides my head broken?”

“Just your neck, that’s all.”

“That ain’t much, Katrine.”

“No, dat ain’t much, or you wouldn’t risk it so many times every day. I tell you to go away.”

“You haven’t told me why.”

“I won’t tell, either.”

“Then I won’t go. I am not going to run away from a shadow.”

“Dis no shadow; you will be taken as a spy.”

“Sho; we ain’t at war with the Dutch. No saying how soon we may be, though; besides, I don’t mind telling you that I have been before the commandant to-day, and was pretty thoroughly searched, too. What does it matter? They didn’t find any thing, though. Where is your cousin?”

“I knew you would come to that, Boston; but it is no use. I won’t—I won’t—I WON’T! You needn’t ask me.”

“You won’t—you won’t—you WON’T! and I needn’t ask you. That’s pretty strong. Pray, before you refuse any thing, wait till you are asked. Do you think I want to hurt your cousin?”


“I don’t know,” sobbed poor Katrine, “I don’t think you would; but I love my cousin.”

“So do I!”


“I love her just as every man who ever saw her loves her, as I love a beautiful picture or a clear night, or as something holy and pure, entirely beyond my reach. As a lovely piece of God’s handiwork, I admire her—but she would not do for every-day use. I have some one in my mind who would suit me better.”

“Who?” asked Katrine, quickly.

“I don’t like to tell; you might not like it.”

“Never mind,” said she, struggling away from him. “Don’t touch me again; I don’t want to know her name.”

“Oh, but you must hear it,” replied the other, “I’ll tell it now, just to spite you. Her name is—”

“I won’t hear,” cried the girl, putting her fingers in her ears—“I won’t hear. Don’t you try for to tell me.”

“She is a pretty girl, I tell you,” said Boston, with a malicious twinkle in his eyes, “and you don’t know how I love her—you don’t want to hear her name?”

“No,” said Katrine, with a quiver of the lip, “I won’t hear it.”

“I’ve a good mind not to tell you, though I know you are dying to hear it. Yes, I will; her name is—” Katrine took her fingers partly out of her ears.

“A Dutch one,” went on Bainbridge. The girl again stopped her ears.

“But a pretty name for all that,” said Boston. “You don’t want to hear it; then I’ll tell it. I call her Katrine!”

“What’s her other name?”


“Me! Oh, you beast—you been fooling me all dis time. You lie, dreadful; I don’t know what may happen to you; but, after all, I am glad you said Katrine, and I am glad you said Veeder, for I don’t know what I should do if you were to fall in love with any one else, you dear, cheating, bundling old vagabond!”

With these somewhat contradictory epithets, Katrine kissed him, then and there.


“Let’s get back to what we were talking of before, my dear,” said Boston. “I can’t afford too much time here. Where is Theresa?”

“Somewhere about the house.”


“I don’t know, Boston; promise me—promise poor Katrine that you will not lead her into any rash things, which may make her father angry; he is none too kind to her since she saw dat young lieutenant, and they learned to love each other. Dat’s de same time you and me tried it, you dear old swindler.”

“The very time. Now, I ain’t going to make no rash promises. I don’t know what may happen; but, this I will promise—through my means, no harm shall come to the gal. I like her for herself, and I like her for the sake of Willie, who is the best young fellow I know.”

A clear, rich voice sounded at this moment in a merry song. Katrine held up her hand.

“That’s her; who could have the heart to do her a wrong? Ah; she is coming in here.”

The door was thrown open, and the singer stood upon the threshold like a picture in a frame—a beautiful picture, too. Theresa Van Curter was a rare type of her style of beauty—the blonde. Her fair hair, lustrous and waving, was put back from a white forehead, and confined at the back with an antique comb; her dress was suited to the station in which she was placed, partaking something of the Indian character, and giving free play to her limbs, a broad hat, which she had been wearing in her stroll through the forest, was swung upon her arm, while her hand clasped a bouquet of wild flowers she had gathered. She started in some surprise at the appearance of Boston, and then, dropping the flowers and hat to the floor, sprung forward.

“Oh, sir, you here! Have you any news?”

She paused in some confusion.

“You needn’t go on,” said Boston, “I never keep a lady waiting. I have a letter for you.”

Theresa put out her hand quickly.

“It must be from him!”

“Yes, it’s from him. Your father tried hard to find it.[31] He would give me both Jerusalem and Jericho if he knew I had it. You see I calculated on being searched, and hid the paper.”

“You did?”

“Yes, I did. Have you got such a thing as a knife around here? Thank you, Katrine. What a famous little house-keeper you’ll make, having every thing so handy about you! Take hold of my old cap and help me.”

A few moments’ work about the lining of the old hat which the hawker had worn revealed a letter, which he took and handed to Theresa. She turned away to the window, and read it hastily. A shade passed over her fine face as she read.

“Is he well?” she asked, turning to Boston, who was engaged in a flirtation with Katrine.

“Oh, yes, ma’am. You see he is out of spirits on your account, and that runs him down some. But he is hearty. Just send him a cheery word, and all will be well in the twinkling of an eye.”

“I am going to my room now, and shall write an answer to this. You must remain until I come back. I shall not be long.”

She hurried away quickly, leaving Boston with Katrine—and they sat down by the casement. They quarreled, and “made up” again, several times, before Theresa appeared with an answer to the note.

“I have a little to say to you. Your father took me to-day, and made me confess that I had a message to you.”

“Oh dear! You did not show him that letter?”

“Not a bit of it. But I told him that the message was verbal, and gave him one of my own making up. Sounded natural enough. Faithful unto death, and that sort of stuff. You understand.”

“And did not Willie send any such message to me?”

“A thousand; but I couldn’t think of half he said, if I were to spend a week in meditation on the subject. You will take them all for granted.”

“I fancy that Willie had better change his messenger,” said Theresa, with a pout. “I am sure he might do better.”

“I am sorry to say that I think you are wrong,” replied Boston, coolly stroking his beard. “There ain’t another man[32] in the five provinces that would do for you what I’ve done, time and again.”

“I am sorry I said that, Boston,” said Theresa, relenting quickly. “I know you are faithful and true, but you ought to remember. Was my father very angry?”

“Very particularly angry,” replied Boston. “Looked as if he wanted to eat all the tribe of Yankees, beginning with me.”

“Was he angry at me?”

“I calculate he was. I don’t want no one to be angrier with me, I guess. He was awful mad.”

“Then you had better go away. But first open your pack and let me get what I need. We have waited a long time for you.”

“That’s because you can trust me. You know that, though I will beat Dutch men sometimes, I never try to beat women.”

“What a twister,” cried Katrine.

“Now don’t you put in at all, Katrine. I won’t have it. Let me trade with Miss Theresa in my own way. You know I won’t try to cheat her.”

“But you do some women.”

“In trade I might. You stop talking, or the dress I am going to sell you will fall to pieces in washing.”

The girl was bending over the pack when the commandant entered. He looked a little angry when he saw the peddler.

“Don’t attempt to ply your trade here, sir. Go elsewhere.”

“Why, squire, as to that, the way I look at it is this: You gave me two days to trade, and you didn’t say where I should go in particular. You didn’t buy any thing, and I thought your daughter might want a few traps.”

“Where do you intend to pass the night?”

“I don’t know. But surely some one will be glad to entertain me, and take some of my wares in consideration. I’ve picked up a good many furs since I came out here, and they are getting heavy. I can’t travel far in a day.”

“You should have a horse,” said Theresa, looking up from the pack, which she was turning over after a woman’s fashion.

“I did have one when I came, but old Paul Swedlepipe wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, but would have him.”

“I’ll wager my commission that he paid for the horse,”[33] said Van Curter, with a laugh. “How much did he give you?”

“Seventy-five guilders. I look upon it in the light of a praiseworthy action—giving that hoss away.”

“Giving it away! S’death, man, I have a dozen horses, and you may have the best of them for seventy-five guilders.”

“I’ll take a look into your stable before I go away,” said Boston. “In the mean time, I’ve got something I want you to look at.” He tumbled over the wares and took out a pair of heavy spurs. “Now look at that,” he cried, in a tone of exultant admiration. “Did you ever, in your born days, see sech a pair of spurs as that? No you didn’t, so you needn’t say it. I don’t say that they are the best pair of spurs in the Colonies, but I put it to you, squire, can you put your finger upon a pair as good, anywhere? If you can, I should be proud to know it.”

Van Curter took up the spurs and looked at them closely.

“Now tell me,” said he, “where is the cheat in this pair of spurs. I take it for granted that there is such a thing about it, since a Yankee brought them. Is it in the price, or in the articles themselves?”

“Oh, as to that,” replied Boston, with an air of injured innocence, “I don’t say any thing. You will have it that there is a cheat in every thing I offer for sale; but, if there is one there, you can’t find it.”

Van Curter laughed again.

“Come now,” he said, “I am willing to take the spurs, and at your price, too, if you will tell me just where the cheat is to be?”

“You will take them any way?”


“Then I’ll tell you; or, rather, it won’t be necessary to tell you any more than the price.”

“And what is the price?”

“Forty guilders.”

“Hein!” shouted Van Curter, breaking into Dutch. “Do you mean, seriously and gravely, to ask me forty guilders for a pair of spurs not worth ten?”

“You wanted to know where the cheat was—in the spurs or the price. You’ve got it. It’s in the price.”


“Der tuyvel! Hold; here is your money. And now take away your pack, or you will ruin my house. Go quickly.”

“I was thinking to wait,” said Boston, coolly buttoning up the cash in his breeches-pocket, “until the lady has made her selections; she don’t seem to have finished.”

“Make your purchases quickly, Theresa, and come with me. I wish to speak with you. Do not delay.”

Theresa gathered up her purchases and demanded the price. He gave such a moderate one, even for him, that Van Curter was astonished, and made no attempt to make the price less.

“You have some conscience yet, Bainbridge,” he said. “Here is your money. Come, Theresa.”

The girl followed him from the room, casting a glance back at the peddler, who had stooped over his pack, and was throwing out various articles, at the bidding of Katrine.

“Do you know what I will bring from Boston when I come again?” said he.

“No,” said Katrine, with a smile. “What?”

“A ring and a minister.”

“What for?” asked Katrine, in sublime unconsciousness.

“If you don’t know now you will know then,” was the answer. “You’d better have this dress made up against that time.” With this he kissed her again, arranged his pack, and left the house, making his way back to the house of Paul Swedlepipe.

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