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New York, and Noah and Jean were on board. Landing in the little city, Noah hastened to see his wife and child and pass a few blissful hours in the enjoyment of his own quiet home. Few hours of such pleasure were granted him. After three days spent thus, he again began the search for the miss ing maid. Many Acadians had been landed in New York; but Noah had a peculiar faculty for picking up lost tbreads, and soon had an abundance of proof that Adrianne had come to New York three years before.
Long they searched and many questions they asked of the descendants of old Holland about the missing maid. Many had seen the Acadians as they landed and among them a score of dark-eyed maids, any one of whom might be the missing Adrianne. Of one sturdy old Dutch settler to whom they applied, they gained a bit of meagre information. He knew a maid had come to the city who was alone and in great distress. sure she had wandered up the Hudson and taken shelter with some of the farmers.
It was late in autumn, in fact, tardy winter lingered not afar; but, as if in kindness for the sorrowing youth, withheld his icy breath. Along the banks of the broad Hudson they roamed from house to house, making inquiry for one who three years before had trod the same ground.
It was late one afternoon when, far up the great stream, they saw in the distance the broad acres of Hans Van Brunt, whose great-grandfather had come to America when New Amsterdam was first laid out. Good-natured, honest old Hans was driving his sheep to the pen from the pasture. Behind him followed his shepherd dog, patient, full of importance, and grand in the pride of his instinct, as he walked from side to side with lordly air, and superbly waved his bushy tail, or urged the stragglers forward. When the shepherd slept he was the regent of flocks, and when from the forest through the silent watches of the night the wolves howled, he became their protector.
The sun was sinking among the distant hills beyond the blue range of mist which might be the peaks of the Catskills, and the sullen glow of those half-subdued fires seemed melting in tenderness and tears. The sky far to the east was of an apple green, while to the north floated a small cloud of amber. The home of Van Brunt on the Hudson, was in one of those green, sheltered, fertile nooks in which the Dutch farmers were so fond of nestling. A great elm tree spread its branches over it; at the foot of which bubbled up a spring of the sweetest, purest water, in a hollowed stone basin; overflowing which, it stole in a sparkling rivulet away through the grass to a neighboring brook, that prattled and murmured among the alders and dwarf willows. Hard by the farmhouse was a mammoth barn, such as Dutch farmers are always provided with, which seemed bursting with the treasures of the farm. Swallows and martins skimmed about the eaves, while rows of pigeons, some with an eye turned upward as if taking an observation of the sky, some with their heads under their wings or buried in their bosoms, others swelling, and cooing, and bowing about their dames, were enjoying the last expiring rays of sunshine on the roof. Sleek, unwieldy porkers were grunting in the repose and abundance of their pens, whence sallied forth, at intervals of every few minutes, sucking pigs, as if to sniff the air and report to their drowsy mothers. A squadron of stately geese were riding in an adjacent pond, convoying a whole fleet of ducks. Battalions of turkeys gobbled through the farm yard; guinea fowls kept up their sharp, discordant cries, while a motherly hen, with a late brood of chickens, was fretting and fussing about like an ill-tempered housewife. Before the barn door strutted a noble chanticleer, that pattern of a Turkish husband, a warrior and fine gentleman, flapping his brilliant wings and crowing in the gladness and pride of his heart. Sometimes he paused to tear up the earth with his feet and, on discovering a rare treasure in the form of a fat grub or bug, loudly called to his harem of wives, to come and share the dainty feast before ascending to their perch.
Hans Van Brunt, aided by his largest boys, put up the sheep and secured all the stock for the night, for the late autumn evenings were growing cool, and retired to the joy and comforts of his home.
Indoors by the wide-mouthed fireplace, the old farmer sat in his elbow-chair, watching the flames and wreaths of smoke struggling together like foes in a burning city. He had had his supper and, with well-filled pipe, sat and watched the glowing flame, while he puffed volumes of pale blue smoke into the broad chimney. Behind him, nodding and mocking along the wall, with fantastic gestures, darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away in the darkness. Faces, rudely carved in oak on the back of his own chair, laughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the dresser, polished until they shone like mirrors, caught and reflected the flame, as burnished shields of armies in the sunshine.
Strings of golden pumpkin adorned the blackened rafters of his dwelling, while strands of bird eggs, hanging on the chimney jamb, made ornaments to the rustic interior. On the opposite side, resting on a heap of glowing embers raked upon the hearth, sat the iron tea-kettle, singing gayly, while the steam and heat issued from its nozzle. The old Dutch farmer's eyes began to grow smaller, and his head to droop, when the door was suddenly opened, and one of his sons, whose broad face distinctly evinced his ancestry, entered, panting and quite out of breath with running and excitement. He announced that a pair of strangers were approaching the house. This was unusual, and the farmer started up, dropped his pipe, and had to refill it again, and then lost the yarn cap of red and yellow, which he picked up just as there came a rap at the door.
The door was thrown open, and Noah and Jean entered. The old Dutch families of New York were noted for their hospitality, and Hans Van Brunt was not one whit behind his great grandfather, who had emigrated to America away back in 1632. He greeted the strangers, ordered refreshments for them, and asked their names, that he might call them friends.
“Our name is Stevens,” Noah answered.
“Stevens; that is an ancient and respected name. There is a tradition in our family, that my great grandfather was an intimate friend of a certain Mathew Stevens, way back in Holland. Perchance, he might have been your ancestor.
The travellers did not care to trace family history. They were on a different mission, and Noah