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The ghosts of their ancestors   By:

The ghosts of their ancestors by Weymer Jay Mills

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The Ghosts of their Ancestors

[Illustration: " Those ancestry books are a standard joke with us "]

The Ghosts of their Ancestors

by Weymer Jay Mills

Author of "Caroline of Courtlandt Street"

Pictures by John Rae


New York Fox Duffield & Co. 1906

Copyright, 1906, by Fox Duffield & Company

Published, March, 1906

The Trow Press, N. Y.

[Illustration: To American Ladies & Gentlemen of prodigious Quality]

To Minerva and Virginia


" Those ancestry books are a standard joke with us " Frontispiece

Facing page

" How lovely she is, Juma! " 18

" My Julie saw them kissing less than an hour ago on the marine parade " 80

" The lady of the banished portrait was moving through the doorway " 110

Chapter One


There was a clanging, brassy melody upon the air. For three score years since York of the Scarlet Coats died, and the tune "God Save the King" floated for the last time out of tavern door and mansion window, the bells of old St. Paul's had begun their ringing like this:

"Loud and full voiced at eight o'clock sends good cheer abroad," said the tottering sexton. "Softer and softer, as folks turn into bed, and faint and sweet at midnight, when our dear Lord rises with the dawn." Cheery bells full of hope gentle chimes, as if the holy mother were dreaming of her babe. Joyous, jingling, jangling bells! Through the town their tones drifted, over the thousands of slate colored roofs, now insistent on the Broadway, now lessening a little in some long winding alley, and then finally dying away on the bare Lispenard Meadows.

Vesey Street the gentry street heard them first. The bigwigs in the long ago, with the help of Gracious George, built the church, and who had a better right than their children to its voices. Calm and serene lay Vesey Street with its rows of leafing elms. Over the dim confusion of architectural forms slipped the moonlight in silver ribbons, seeming to make sport of the grave, smug faces of the antiquated domiciles. Like a line of deserted dowagers waiting for some recalcitrant Sir Roger de Coverley, they stood scowling at one another. No longer linkboys and running footmen stuck brave lights into the well painted extinguishers at each doorstep. No longer fashion fluttered to their gates. The gallants who had been wont to pass them with, "Lud! what a pretty house!" were most of them asleep now on the green breast of mother England, forgetful of that wide thoroughfare, which had never reckoned life without them.

Into the parlor of Knickerbocker House, dubbed Knickerbocker Mansion some years after the bibulous Sir William Howe had laid down his sceptre as ruler of the town, the chorus of bells crashed.

"What a dastardly noise!" cried Jonathan Knickerbocker, throwing his newspaper over his head. "Can this Easter time never be kept without an infernal bell bombilation? I shall call a meeting of the vestry that idiot Jenkins should be kept at home!"

The head of the Knickerbocker family turned irately in his chair and glared at his daughters. Three timid pairs of blinking eyes were raised from short sacks in answer to his challenge, then lowered again over the wool. The fourth and fairest daughter of the house, seated on the walnut sofa in the bow window, gave no heed to his vehemence but a suppressed sigh. With a final snort the Gazette was picked up again. The Easter melody was waning.



The Knickerbocker parlor not the state parlor, which had long been closed was a dismal place so large that four candles and one Rumford lamp made but a patch of brightness in the gloom. Most of the furniture was ponderous and ugly, with two or three alien little chairs that looked as if they might once have belonged to some light hearted lover of the Louis... Continue reading book >>

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