Part 1 out of 9
Produced by Distributed Proofreaders
The Skimmer of the Seas.
By J. Fenimore Cooper.
"Mais, qui diable alloit-il faire dans cette galere!"
Complete in One Volume
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by Stringer
and Townsend In the Clerk's office of the District Court for the southern
district of New York.
Christendom is gradually extricating itself from the ignorance, ferocity,
and crimes of the middle ages. It is no longer subject of boast, that the
hand which wields the sword, never held a pen, and men have long since
ceased to be ashamed of knowledge. The multiplied means of imparting
principles and facts, and a more general diffusion of intelligence, have
conduced to establish sounder ethics and juster practices, throughout the
whole civilized world. Thus, he who admits the conviction, as hope
declines with his years, that man deteriorates, is probably as far from
the truth, as the visionary who sees the dawn of a golden age, in the
commencement of the nineteenth century. That we have greatly improved on
the opinions and practices of our ancestors, is quite as certain as that
there will be occasion to meliorate the legacy of morals which we shall
transmit to posterity.
When the progress of civilization compelled Europe to correct the violence
and injustice which were so openly practised, until the art of printing
became known, the other hemisphere made America the scene of those acts,
which shame prevented her from exhibiting nearer home. There was little of
a lawless, mercenary, violent, and selfish nature, that the self-styled
masters of the continent hesitated to commit, when removed from the
immediate responsibilities of the society in which they had been educated.
The Drakes, Rogers', and Dampiers of that day, though enrolled in the list
of naval heroes were no other than pirates, acting under the sanction of
commissions; and the scenes that occurred among the marauders of the land,
were often of a character to disgrace human nature.
That the colonies which formed the root of this republic escaped the more
serious evils of a corruption so gross and so widely spread, can only be
ascribed to the characters of those by whom they were peopled.
Perhaps nine-tenths of all the white inhabitants of the Union are the
direct descendants of men who quitted Europe in order to worship God
according to conviction and conscience. If the Puritans of New-England,
the Friends of Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, the Catholics of
Maryland, the Presbyterians of the upper counties of Virginia and of the
Carolinas, and the Huguenots, brought with them the exaggeration of their
peculiar sects, it was an exaggeration that tended to correct most of
their ordinary practices. Still the English Provinces were not permitted,
altogether, to escape from the moral dependency that seems nearly
inseparable from colonial government, or to be entirely exempt from the
wide contamination of the times.
The State of New-York, as is well known, was originally a colony of the
United Provinces. The settlement was made in the year 1613; and the Dutch
East India Company, under whose authority the establishment was made,
claimed the whole country between the Connecticut and the mouth of
Delaware-bay, a territory which, as it had a corresponding depth, equalled
the whole surface of the present kingdom of France. Of this vast region,
however, they never occupied but a narrow belt on each side of the Hudson,
with, here and there, a settlement on a few of the river flats, more
There is a providence in the destiny of nations, that sets at nought the
most profound of human calculations. Had the dominion of the Dutch
continued a century longer, there would have existed in the very heart of
the Union a people opposed to its establishment, by their language,
origin, and habits. The conquest of the English in 1663, though unjust and
iniquitous in itself, removed the danger, by opening the way for the
introduction of that great community of character which now so happily
Though the English, the French, the Swedes, the Dutch, the Danes, the
Spaniards, and the Norwegians, all had colonies within the country which
now composes the United States, the people of the latter are more
homogeneous in character, language, and opinions, than those of any other
great nation that is familiarly known. This identity of character is owing
to the early predominance of the English, and to the circumstance that
New-England and Virginia, the two great sources of internal emigration,
were entirely of English origin. Still, New-York retains, to the present
hour, a variety of usages that were obtained from Holland. Her edifices of
painted bricks, her streets lined with trees, her inconvenient and awkward
stoops and a large proportion of her names, are equally derived from the
Dutch. Until the commencement of this century, even the language of
Holland prevailed in the streets of the capital, and though a nation of
singular boldness and originality in all that relates to navigation, the
greatest sea-port of the country betrays many evidences of a taste which
must be referred to the same origin.
The reader will find in these facts a sufficient explanation of most of
the peculiar customs, and of some of the peculiar practices, that are
exhibited in the course of the following tale. Slavery, a divided
language, and a distinct people, are no longer to be found, within the
fair regions of New-York; and, without pretending to any peculiar
exemption from the weaknesses of humanity, it may be permitted us to hope,
that these are not the only features of the narrative, which a better
policy, and a more equitable administration of power, have made purely
Early released from the fetters of the middle ages, fetters that bound the
mind equally with the person, America has preceded rather than followed
Europe, in that march of improvement which is rendering the present era so
remarkable. Under a system, broad, liberal, and just as hers, though she
may have to contend with rivalries that are sustained by a more
concentrated competition, and which are as absurd by their pretension of
liberality as they are offensive by their monopolies, there is nothing to
fear, in the end. Her political motto should be Justice, and her first and
greatest care to see it administered to her own citizens.
The reader is left to make the application.
"What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?
Or shall we on without apology."
Romeo and Juliet.
The fine estuary which penetrates the American coast, between the fortieth
and forty-first degrees of latitude, is formed by the confluence of the
Hudson, the Hackensack, the Passaic, the Raritan, and a multitude of
smaller streams; all of which pour their tribute into the ocean, within
the space named. The islands of Nassau and Staten are happily placed to
exclude the tempests of the open sea, while the deep and broad arms of the
latter offer every desirable facility for foreign trade and internal
intercourse. To this fortunate disposition of land and water, with a
temperate climate, a central position, and an immense interior, that is
now penetrated, in every direction, either by artificial or by natural
streams, the city of New-York is indebted for its extraordinary
prosperity. Though not wanting in beauty, there are many bays that surpass
this in the charms of scenery; but it may be questioned if the world
possesses another site that unites so many natural advantages for the
growth and support of a widely extended commerce. As if never wearied with
her kindness, Nature has placed the island of Manhattan at the precise
point that is most desirable for the position of a town. Millions might
inhabit the spot, and yet a ship should load near every door; and while
the surface of the land just possesses the inequalities that are required
for health and cleanliness, its bosom is filled with the material most
needed in construction.
The consequences of so unusual a concurrence of favorable circumstances,
are well known. A vigorous, healthful, and continued growth, that has no
parallel even in the history of this extraordinary and fortunate country,
has already raised the insignificant provincial town of the last century
to the level of the second-rate cities of the other hemisphere. The
New-Amsterdam of this continent already rivals its parent of the other;
and, so far as human powers may pretend to predict, a few fleeting years
will place her on a level with the proudest capitals of Europe.
It would seem that, as Nature has given its periods to the stages of
animal life, it has also set limits to all moral and political ascendency.
While the city of the Medici is receding from its crumbling walls, like
the human form shrinking into "the lean and slipper'd pantaloon," the
Queen of the Adriatic sleeping on her muddy isles, and Rome itself is only
to be traced by fallen temples and buried columns, the youthful vigor of
America is fast covering the wilds of the West with the happiest fruits of
By the Manhattanese, who is familiar with the forest of masts, the miles
of wharves, the countless villas, the hundred churches, the castles, the
smoking and busy vessels that crowd his bay, the daily increase and the
general movement of his native town, the picture we are about to sketch
will scarcely be recognized. He who shall come a generation later will
probably smile, that subject of admiration should have been found in the
existing condition of the city: and yet we shall attempt to carry the
recollections of the reader but a century back, in the brief history of
As the sun rose on the morning of the 3d of June 171-, the report of a
cannon was heard rolling along the waters of the Hudson. Smoke issued from
an embrasure of a small fortress, that stood on the point of land where
the river and the bay mingle their waters. The explosion was followed by
the appearance of a flag, which, as it rose to the summit of its staff and
unfolded itself heavily in the light current of air, showed the blue field
and red cross of the English ensign. At the distance of several miles, the
dark masts of a ship were to be seen, faintly relieved by the verlant
back-ground of the heights of Staten Island. A little cloud floated over
this object, and then an answering signal came dull and rumbling to the
town. The flag that the cruiser set was not visible in the distance.
At the precise moment that the noise of the first gun was heard, the door
of one of the principal dwellings of the town opened, and a man, who might
have been its master, appeared on its stoop, as the ill-arranged entrances
of the buildings of the place are still termed. He was seemingly prepared
for some expedition that was likely to consume the day. A black of middle
age followed the burgher to the threshold; and another negro, who had not
yet reached the stature of manhood, bore under his arm a small bundle,
that probably contained articles of the first necessity to the comfort of
"Thrift, Mr. Euclid, thrift is your true philosopher's stone;" commenced,
or rather continued in a rich full-mouthed Dutch, the proprietor of the
dwelling, who had evidently been giving a leave-taking charge to his
principal slave, before quitting the house--"Thrift hath made many a man
rich, but it never yet brought any one to want. It is thrift which has
built up the credit of my house, and, though it is said by myself, a
broader back and firmer base belongs to no merchant in the colonies You
are but the reflection of your master's prosperity, you rogue, and so much
the greater need that you took to his interests. If the substance is
wasted, what will become of the shadow? When I get delicate, you will
sicken: when I am a-hungered, you will be famished; when I die, you may
be--ahem--Euclid. I leave thee in charge with goods and chattels, house
and stable, with my character in the neighborhood. I am going to the Lust
in Rust, for a mouthful of better air. Plague and fevers! I believe the
people will continue to come into this crowded town, until it gets to be
as pestilent as Rotterdam in the dog-days. You have now come to years when
a man obtains his reflection, boy, and I expect suitable care and
discretion about the premises, while my back is turned. Now, harkee,
sirrah: I am not entirely pleased with the character of thy company. It is
not altogether as respectable as becomes the confidential servant of a man
of a certain station in the world. There are thy two cousins, Brom and
Kobus, who are no better than a couple of blackguards; and as for the
English negro, Diomede--he is a devil's imp! Thou hast the other locks at
disposal, and," drawing with visible reluctance the instrument from his
pocket, "here is the key of the stable. Not a hoof is to quit it, but to
go to the pump--and see that each animal has its food to a minute. The
devil's roysterers! a Manhattan negro takes a Flemish gelding for a gaunt
hound that is never out of breath, and away he goes, at night, scampering
along the highways like a Yankee witch switching through the air on a
broomstick--but mark me, master Euclid, I have eyes in my head, as thou
knowest by bitter experience! D'ye remember, ragamuffin, the time when I
saw thee, from the Hague, riding the beasts, as if the devil spurred them,
along the dykes of Leyden, without remorse as without leave?"
"I alway b'rieve some make-mischief tell Masser dat time;" returned the
negro sulkily, though not without doubt.
"His own eyes were the tell-tales. If masters had no eyes, a pretty world
would the negroes make of it! I have got the measure of every black heel,
on the island, registered in the big book, you see me so often looking
into, especially on Sundays; and, if either of the tire-legs I have named
dares to enter my grounds, let him expect to pay a visit to the city
Provost. What do the wild-cats mean? Do they think that the geldings were
bought in Holland, with charges for breaking in, shipment, insurance,
freight, and risk of diseases, to have their flesh melted from their ribs
like a cook's candle?"
"Ere no'tin' done in all 'e island, but a color' man do him! He do a
mischief, and he do all a work, too! I won'er what color Masser t'ink war'
"Black or white, he was a rank rogue; and you see the end he came to. I
warrant you, now, that water-thief began his iniquities by riding the
neighbors' horses, at night. His fate should be a warning to every negro
in the colony. The imps of darkness! The English have no such scarcity of
rogues at home, that they could not spare us the pirate to hang up on one
of the islands, as a scarecrow to the blacks of Manhattan."
"Well, I t'ink 'e sight do a white man some good, too;" returned Euclid,
who had all the pertinacity of a spoiled Dutch negro, singularly blended
with affection for him in whose service he had been born. "I hear ebbery
body say, 'er'e war' but two color man in he ship, and 'em bot' war'
"A modest tongue, thou midnight scamperer! look to my geldings--Here--here
are two Dutch florins, three stivers, and a Spanish pistareen for thee;
one of the florins is for thy old mother, and with the others thou canst
lighten thy heart in the Paus merrymakings--if I hear that either of thy
rascally cousins, or the English Diomede, has put a leg across beast of
mine, it will be the worse for all Africa! Famine and skeletons! here
have I been seven years trying to fatten the nags, and they still look
more like weasels than a pair of solid geldings."
The close of this speech was rather muttered in the distance, and by way
of soliloquy, than actually administered to the namesake of the great
mathematician. The air of the negro had been a little equivocal, during
the parting admonition. There was an evident struggle, in his mind,
between an innate love of disobedience, and a secret dread of his master's
means of information. So long as the latter continued in sight, the black
watched his form in doubt; and when it had turned a corner, he stood at
gaze, for a moment, with a negro on a neighboring stoop; then both shook
their heads significantly, laughed aloud, and retired. That night, the
confidential servant attended to the interests of his absent master, with
a fidelity and care which proved he felt his own existence identified with
that of a man who claimed so close a right in his person; and just as the
clock struck ten, he and the negro last mentioned mounted the sluggish and
over-fattened horses, and galloped, as hard as foot could be laid to the
earth, several miles deeper into the island, to attend a frolic at one of
the usual haunts of the people of their color and condition.
Had Alderman Myndert Van Beverout suspected the calamity which was so soon
to succeed his absence, it is probable that his mien would have been less
composed, as he pursued his way from his own door, on the occasion named.
That he had confidence in the virtue of his menaces, however, may be
inferred from the tranquillity which immediately took possession of
features that were never disturbed, without wearing an appearance of
unnatural effort. The substantial burgher was a little turned of fifty:
and an English wag, who had imported from the mother country a love for
the humor of his nation, had once, in a conflict of wits before the city
council, described him to be a man of alliterations. When called upon to
explain away this breach of parliamentary decorum, the punster had gotten
rid of the matter, by describing his opponent to be "short, solid and
sturdy, in stature; full, flushed and funny, in face; and proud, ponderous
and pragmatical, in propensities." But, as is usual, in all sayings of
effort there was more smartness than truth in this description; though,
after making a trifling allowance for the coloring of political rivalry,
the reader may receive its physical portion as sufficiently descriptive to
answer all the necessary purposes of this tale. If we add, that he was a
trader of great wealth and shrewdness, and a bachelor, we need say no more
in this stage of the narrative.
Notwithstanding the early hour at which this industrious and flourishing
merchant quitted his abode, his movement along the narrow streets of his
native town was measured and dignified. More than once, he stopped to
speak to some favorite family-servant, invariably terminating his
inquiries after the health of the master, by some facetious observation
adapted to the habits and capacity of the slave. From this, it would seem,
that, while he had so exaggerated notions of domestic discipline, the
worthy burgher was far from being one who indulged, by inclination, in the
menaces he has been heard to utter. He had just dismissed one of these
loitering negroes, when, on turning a corner, a man of his own color, for
the first time that morning, suddenly stood before him. The startled
citizen made an involuntary movement to avoid the unexpected interview,
and then, perceiving the difficulty of such a step, he submitted, with as
good a grace as if it had been one of his own seeking.
"The orb of day--the morning gun--and Mr Alderman Van Beverout!" exclaimed
the individual encountered. "Such is the order of events, at this early
hour, on each successive revolution of our earth."
The countenance of the Alderman had barely time to recover its composure,
ere he was required to answer to this free and somewhat facetious
salutation. Uncovering his head, he bowed so ceremoniously as to leave the
other no reason to exult in his pleasantry, as he answered--
"The colony has reason to regret the services of a governor who can quit
his bed so soon. That we of business habits stir betimes, is quite in
reason; but there are those in this town, who would scarce believe their
eyes did they enjoy my present happiness."
"Sir, there are many in this colony who have great reason to distrust
their senses, though none can be mistaken in believing they see Alderman
Van Beverout in a well-employed man. He that dealeth in the produce of the
beaver must have the animal's perseverance and forethought! Now, were I a
king-at-arms, there should be a concession made in thy favor, Myndert, of
a shield bearing the animal mordant, a mantle of fur, with two Mohawk
hunters for supporters, and the motto, 'Industry.'"
"Or what think you, my Lord," returned the other, who did not more than
half relish the pleasantry of his companion, "of a spotless shield for a
clear conscience, with an open hand for a crest, and the motto, 'Frugality
"I like the open hand, though the conceit is pretending. I see you would
intimate that the Van Beverouts have not need, at this late day, to search
a herald's office for honors. I remember, now I bethink me, on some
occasion to have seen their bearings; a windmill, courant; dyke, coulant;
field, vert, sprinkled with black cattle--No! then, memory is
treacherous; the morning air is pregnant with food for the imagination!"
"Which is not a coin to satisfy a creditor, my Lord," said the caustic
"Therein has truth been, pithily, spoken. This is an ill-judged step,
Alderman Van Beverout, that lets a gentleman out by night, like the ghost
in Hamlet, to flee into the narrow house with the crowing of the cock. The
ear of my royal cousin hath been poisoned, worse than was the ear of
'murdered Denmark,' or the partisans of this Mister Hunter would have
little cause to triumph."
"Is it not possible to give such pledges to those who have turned the key,
as will enable your lordship to apply the antidote."
The question stuck a chord that changed the whole manner of the other. His
air, which had borne the character of a genteel trifler, became more grave
and dignified; and notwithstanding there was the evidence of a reckless
disposition in his features, dress and carriage, his tall and not
ungraceful form, as he walked slowly onward, by the side of the compact
Alderman, was not without much of that insinuating ease and blandishment,
which long familiarity with good company can give even to the lowest moral
"Your question, worthy Sir, manifests great goodness of heart, and
corroborates that reputation for generosity, the world so freely gives. It
is true that the Queen has been persuaded to sign the mandate of my
recall, and it is certain that Mr. Hunter has the government of the
colony; but these are facts that might be reversed, were I once in a
position to approach my kinswoman. I do not disclaim certain
indiscretions, Sir; it would ill become me to deny them, in presence of
one whose virtue is as severe as that of Alderman Van Beverout. I have my
failings; perhaps, as you have just been pleased to intimate, it would
have been better had my motto been frugality; but the open hand, dear Sir,
is a part of the design you will not deny me, either. If I have
weaknesses, my enemies cannot refuse to say that I never yet deserted a
"Not having had occasion to tax your friendship, I shall not be the first
to make the charge.
"Your impartiality has come to be a proverb! 'As honest as Alderman Van
Beverout;' 'as generous as Alderman Van Beverout,' are terms in each man's
mouth; some say 'as rich;' (the small blue eye of the burgher twinkled.)
But honesty, and riches, and generosity, are of little value, without
influence. Men should have their natural consideration in society. Now is
this colony rather Dutch than English, and yet, you see, how few names are
found in the list of the Council, that have been known in the province
half a century! Here are your Alexanders and Heathcotes, your Morris's and
Kennedies, de Lanceys and Livingstons, filling the Council and the
legislative halls; but we find few of the Van Rensselaers, Van
Courtlandts, Van Schuylers, Stuyvesants, Van Beekmans, and Van Beverouts,
in their natural stations. All nations and religions have precedency, in
the royal favor, over the children of the Patriarchs. The Bohemian
Felipses; the Huguenot de Lanceys, and Bayards, and Jays; the King-hating
Morrises and Ludlows--in short, all have greater estimation in the eyes of
government, than the most ancient Patroon!"
"This has long and truly been the case. I cannot remember when it was
"It may not be denied. But it would little become political discretion to
affect precipitancy in the judgment of character. If my own administration
can be stigmatized with the same apparent prejudice, it proves the clearer
how strong is misrepresentation at home. Time was wanting to enlighten my
mind and that time has been refused me. In another year, my worthy Sir,
the Council should have been filled with Van's!"
"In such a case, my Lord, the unhappy condition in which you are now
placed might indeed have been avoided."
"Is it too late to arrest the evil? It is time Anne had been undeceived,
and her mind regained. There wanteth nothing to such a consummation of
justice, Sir, but opportunity. It touches me to the heart, to think that
this disgrace should befall one so near the royal blood! 'Tis a spot on
the escutcheon of the crown, that all loyal subjects must feel desirous to
efface, and so small an effort would effect the object, too, with
certain--Mr. Alderman Myndert Van Beverout----?"
"My Lord, late Governor," returned the other, observing that his companion
"What think you of this Hanoverian settlement?--Shall a German wear the
crown of a Plantagenet?"
"It hath been worn by a Hollander."
"Aptly answered! Worn, and worn worthily! There is affinity between the
people, and there is reason in that reply. How have I failed in wisdom, in
not seeking earlier the aid of thy advice, excellent Sir! Ah, Myndert,
there is a blessing on the enterprises of all who come of the Low
"They are industrious to earn, and slow to squander."
"That expenditure is the ruin of many a worthy subject! And yet
accident--chance--fortune--or whatever you may choose to call it,
interferes nefariously, at times, with a gentleman's prosperity. I am an
adorer of constancy in friendship, Sir, and hold the principle that men
should aid each other through this dark vale of life--Mr. Alderman Van
"My Lord Cornbury?"
"I was about to say, that should I quit the Province, without expressing
part of the regret I feel, at not having sooner ascertained the merits of
its original owners, and your own in particular, I should do injustice to
sensibilities, that are only too acute for the peace of him who endures
"Is there then hope that your lordship's creditors will relent, or has the
Earl furnished means to open the prison-door?"
"You use the pleasantest terms, Sir!--but I love directness of language,
above all other qualities. No doubt the prison-door, as you have so
clearly expressed it, might be opened, and lucky would be the man who
should turn the key. I am pained when I think of the displeasure of the
Queen, which, sooner or later, will surely visit my luckless persecutors.
On the other hand, I find relief in thinking of the favor she will extend
to those who have proved my friends, in such a strait. They that wear
crowns love not to see disgrace befall the meanest of their blood, for
something of the taint may sully even the ermine of Majesty.--Mr.
"--How fare the Flemish geldings?"
"Bravely, and many thanks, my Lord; the rogues are fat as butter! There is
hope of a little rest for the innocents, since business calls me to the
Lust in Rust. There should be a law, Lord Governor, to gibbet the black
that rides a beast at night."
"I bethought of some condign punishment for so heartless a crime, but
there is little hope for it under the administration of this Mr. Hunter.
Yes, Sir; were I once more in the presence of my royal cousin, there would
quickly be an end to this delusion, and the colony should be once more
restored to a healthful state. The men of a generation should cease to
lord it over the men of a century. But we must be wary of letting our
design, my dear Sir, get wind: it is a truly Dutch idea, and the profits,
both pecuniary and political, should belong to the gentlemen of that
descent--My dear Van Beverout--?"
"My good Lord?"
"Is the blooming Alida obedient? Trust me, there has no family event
occurred, during my residence in the colony, in which I have taken a
nearer interest, than in that desirable connexion. The wooing of the young
Patroon of Kinderhook is an affair of concern to the province. It is a
"With an excellent estate, my Lord!"
"And a gravity beyond his years."
"I would give a guarantee, at a risk, that two-thirds of his income goes
to increase the capital, at the beginning of each season!"
"He seems a man to live on air!"
"My old friend, the last Patroon, left noble assets," continued the
Alderman, rubbing his hands; "besides the manor."
"Which is no paddock!"
"It reaches from the Hudson to the line of Massachusetts. A hundred
thousand acres of hill and bottom, and well peopled by frugal Hollanders."
"Respectable in possession, and a mine of gold in reversion! Such men,
Sir, should be cherished. We owe it to his station to admit him to a share
of this, our project to undeceive the Queen. How superior are the claims
of such a gentleman to the empty pretensions of your Captain Ludlow!"
"He has truly a very good and an improving estate!"
"These Ludlows, Sir, people that fled the realm for plotting against the
crown, are offensive to a loyal subject. Indeed, too much of this
objection may be imputed to many in the province, that come of English
blood. I am sorry to say, that they are fomenters of discord, disturbers
of the public mind, and captious disputants about prerogatives and vested
rights. But there is a repose in the Dutch character which lends it
dignity! The descendants of the Hollanders are men to be counted on; where
we leave them to-day, we see them to-morrow. As we say in politics, Sir,
we know where to find them. Does it not seem to you particularly offensive
that this Captain Ludlow should command the only royal cruiser on the
"I should like it better, my Lord, were he to serve in Europe," returned
the Alderman, glancing a look behind him, and lowering his voice. "There
was lately a rumor that his ship was in truth to be sent among the
"Matters are getting very wrong, most worthy Sir; and the greater the
necessity there should be one at court to undeceive the Queen. Innovators
should be made to give way to men whose names are historical, in the
"'Twould be no worse for Her Majesty's credit."
"'Twould be another jewel in her crown! Should this Captain Ludlow
actually marry your niece, the family would altogether change its
character--I have the worst memory--thy mother, Myndert, was a--a--"
"The pious woman was a Van Busser."
"The union of thy sister with the Huguenot then reduces the fair Alida to
the quality of a half-blood. The Ludlow connexion would destroy the leaven
of the race! I think the man is penniless!"
"I cannot say that, my Lord, for I would not willingly injure the credit
of my worst enemy; but, though wealthy, he is far from having the estate
of the young Patroon of Kinderhook."
"He should indeed be sent into the Indies--Myndert--?"
"It would be unjust to my sentiments in favor of Mr. Oloff Van Staats,
were we to exclude him from the advantages of our project. This much shall
I exact from your friendship, in his favor; the necessary sum may be
divided, in moieties, between you; a common bond shall render the affair
compact; and then, as we shall be masters of our own secret, there can be
little doubt of the prudence of our measures. The amount is written in
this bit of paper."
"Two thousand pounds, my Lord!"
"Pardon me, dear Sir; not a penny more than one for each of you. Justice
to Van Staats requires that you let him into the affair. Were it not for
the suit with your niece, I should take the young gentleman with me, to
push his fortunes at court."
"Truly, my Lord, this greatly exceeds my means. The high prices of furs
the past season, and delays in returns have placed a seal upon our
"The premium would be high."
"Coin is getting so scarce, daily, that the face of a Carolus is almost as
great a stranger, as the face of a debtor--"
"The returns certain."
"While one's creditors meet him, at every corner--"
"The concern would be altogether Dutch."
"And last advices from Holland tell us to reserve our gold, for some
extraordinary movements in the commercial world."
"Mr. Alderman Myndert Van Beverout!"
"My Lord Viscount Cornbury--"
"Plutus preserve thee, Sir--but have a care! though I scent the morning
air, and must return, it is not forbid to tell the secrets of my
prison-house. There is one, in yonder cage, who whispers that the 'Skimmer
of the Seas' is on the coast! Be wary, worthy burgher, or the second part
of the tragedy of Kidd may yet be enacted in these seas."
"I leave such transactions to my superiors," retorted the Alderman, with
another stiff and ceremonious bow. "Enterprises that are said to have
occupied the Earl of Bellamont, Governor Fletcher, and my Lord Cornbury,
are above the ambition of an humble merchant."
"Adieu, tenacious Sir; quiet thine impatience for the extraordinary Dutch
movements!" said Cornbury, affecting to laugh, though he secretly felt the
sting the other had applied, since common report implicated not only him,
but his two official predecessors, in several of the lawless proceedings
of the American Buccaneers: "Be vigilant, or la demoiselle Barberie will
give another cross to the purity of the stagnant pool!"
The bows that were exchanged were strictly in character. The Alderman was
unmoved, rigid, and formal, while his companion could not forget his ease
of manner, even at a moment of so much vexation. Foiled in an effort, that
nothing but his desperate condition, and nearly desperate character, could
have induced him to attempt, the degenerate descendant of the virtuous
Clarendon walked towards his place of confinement, with the step of one
who assumed a superiority over his fellows, and yet with a mind so
indurated by habitual depravity, as to have left it scarcely the trace of
a dignified or virtuous quality.
"His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles;
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate;--"
Two Gentlemen of Verona.
The philosophy of Alderman Van Beverout was not easily disturbed. Still
there was a play of the nether muscles of the face, which might be
construed into self-complacency at his victory, while a certain
contraction of those which controlled the expression of the forehead
seemed to betray a full consciousness of the imminent risk he had run. The
left hand was thrust into a pocket, where it diligently fingered the
provision of Spanish coin without which the merchant never left his abode;
while the other struck the cane it held on the pavement, with the force of
a resolute and decided man. In this manner he proceeded in his walk, for
several minutes longer, shortly quitting the lower streets, to enter one
that ran along the ridge, which crowned the land, in that quarter of the
island. Here he soon stopped before the door of a house which, in that
provincial town, had altogether the air of a patrician dwelling.
Two false gables, each of which was surmounted by an iron weathercock,
intersected the roof of this building, and the high and narrow stoop was
built of the red free-stone of the country. The material of the edifice
itself was, as usual, the small, hard brick of Holland, painted a delicate
A single blow of the massive glittering knocker brought a servant to the
door. The promptitude with which this summons was answered showed that,
notwithstanding the early hour, the Alderman was an expected guest. The
countenance of him who acted as porter betrayed no surprise when he saw
the person who applied for admission, and every movement of the black
denoted preparation and readiness for his reception. Declining his
invitation to enter, however, the Alderman placed his back against the
iron railing of the stoop, and opened a discourse with the negro. The
latter was aged, with a head that was grizzled, a nose that was levelled
nearly to the plane of his face, features that were wrinkled and confused,
and with a form which, though still solid, was bending with its load of
"Brave cheer to thee, old Cupid!" commenced the burgher, in the hearty
and cordial manner with which the masters of that period were wont to
address their indulged slaves. "A clear conscience is a good night-cap,
and you look bright as the morning sun! I hope my friend the young Patroon
has slept sound as yourself, and that he has shown his face already, to
The negro answered with the slow clipping manner that characterized his
condition and years.
"He'm werry wakeful, Masser Al'erman. I t'ink he no sleep half he time,
lately. All he a'tiverty and wiwacerty gone, an' he do no single t'ing but
smoke. A gentle'um who smoke alway, Masser Al'erman, get to be a
melercholy man, at last. I do t'ink 'ere be one young lady in York who be
he deat', some time!"
"We'll find the means to get the pipe out of his mouth," said the other,
looking askance at the black, as if to express more than he uttered.
"Romance and pretty girls play the deuce with our philosophy, in youth, as
thou knowest by experience, old Cupid."
"I no good for any t'ing, dat-a-way, now, not'ing," calmly returned the
black. "I see a one time, when few color' man in York hab more respect
among a fair sec', but dat a great while gone by. Now, de modder of your
Euclid, Masser Al'erman, war' a pretty woman, do' she hab but poor
conduc'. Den a war' young heself, and I use to visit at de Al'erman's
fadder's; afore a English come, and when ole Patroon war' a young man.
Golly! I great affection for Euclid, do' a young dog nebber come a near
"He's a blackguard! My back is no sooner turned, than the rascal's atop of
one of his master's geldings.'
"He'm werry young, master My'nert: no one get a wis'om fore a gray hair."
He's forty every minute, and the rogue gets impudence with his years. Age
is a reverend and respectable condition, when it brings gravity and
thought; but, if a young fool be tiresome, an old fool is contemptible.
I'll warrant me, you never were so thoughtless, or so heartless, Cupid, as
to ride an overworked beast, at night!"
"Well, I get pretty ole, Masser Myn'ert an' I forget all he do when a
young man. But here be'e Patroon, who know how to tell'e Al'erman such
t'ing better than a poor color' slave."
"A fair rising and a lucky day to you, Patroon!" cried the Alderman,
saluting a large, slow-moving, gentlemanly-looking young man of
five-and-twenty, who advanced, with the gravity of one of twice that
number of years, from the interior of the house, towards its outer door
"The winds are bespoken, and here is as fine a day as ever shone out of a
clear sky, whether it came from the pure atmosphere of Holland, or of old
England itself. Colonies and patronage! If the people on the other side of
the ocean had more faith in mother Nature, and less opinion of themselves,
they would find it very tolerable breathing in the plantations. But the
conceited rogues are like the man who blew the bellows, and fancied he
made the music; and there is never a hobbling imp of them all, but he
believes he is straighter and sounder, than the best in the colonies. Here
is our bay, now, as smooth as if it were shut in with twenty dykes, and
the voyage will be as safe as if it were made on a canal."
"Dat werry well, if a do it," grumbled Cupid, who busied himself
affectionately about the person of his master. "I think it alway better to
travel on 'e land, when a gentle'um own so much as Masser Oloff Der war'
'e time a ferry-boat go down, wid crowd of people; and nobody ebber come
up again to say how he feel."
"Here is some mistake!" interrupted the Alderman, throwing an uneasy
glance at his young friend. "I count four-and-fifty years, and remember no
"He'm werry sing'lar how a young folk do forget! 'Ere war' drown six
people in dat werry-boat. A two Yankee, a Canada Frenchman, and a poor
woman from a Jarseys. Ebbery body war werry sorry for a poor woman from a
"Thy tally is false, Master Cupid," promptly rejoined the Alderman, who
was rather expert at figures. "Two Yankees, a Frenchman, and your Jersey
woman, make but four."
"Well, den I s'pose 'ere war' one Yankee; but I, know all war' drown, for
'e Gubbenor lose he fine coach-horses in dat werry-boat."
"The old fellow is right, sure enough; for I remember the calamity of the
horses, as if it were but yesterday. But Death is monarch of the earth,
and none of us may hope to escape his scythe, when the appointed hour
shall come! Here are no nags to lose, to-day; and we may commence our
voyage, Patroon, with cheerful faces and light hearts. Shall we proceed?"
Oloff Van Staats, or the Patroon of Kinderhook, as, by the courtesy of the
colony, he was commonly termed, did not want for personal firmness. On the
contrary, like most of those who were descended from the Hollanders, he
was rather distinguished for steadiness in danger, and obstinacy in
resistance. The little skirmish which had just taken place, between his
friend and his slave, had proceeded from the several apprehensions; the
one feeling a sort of parental interest in his safety, and the other
having particular reasons for wishing him to persevere in his intention to
embark, instead of any justifiable cause in the character of the young
proprietor himself. A sign to the boy who bore a portmanteau, settled the
controversy; and then Mr. Van Staats intimated his readiness to move.
Cupid lingered on the stoop, until his master had turned a corner; then,
shaking his head with all the misgivings of an ignorant and superstitious
mind, he drove the young fry of blacks, who thronged the door, into the
house, closing all after him with singular and scrupulous care. How far
the presentiment of the black was warranted by the event, will be seen in
the course of the narrative.
The wide avenue, in which Oloff Van Staats dwelt, was but a few hundred
yards in length. It terminated, at one end, with the fortress; and at the
other, it was crossed by a high stockade, which bore the name of the city
walls; a defence that was provided against any sudden irruption of the
Indians, who then hunted, and even dwelt in some numbers, in the lower
counties of the colony.
It requires great familiarity with the growth of the town, to recognize,
in this description, the noble street that now runs for a league through
the centre of the island. From this avenue, which was then, as it is
still, called the Broadway, our adventurers descended into a lower quarter
of the town, holding free converse by the way.
"That Cupid is a negro to keep the roof on a house, in its master's
absence, Patroon," observed the Alderman, soon after they had left the
stoop. "He looks like a padlock, and one might sleep, without a dream,
with such a guardian near his dwelling. I wish I had brought the honest
fellow the key of my stable!"
"I have heard my father say, that the keys of his own were always better
near his own pillow," coolly returned the proprietor of a hundred thousand
"Ah, the curse of Cain! It is needless to look for the fur of a marten on
the back of a cat. But, Mr. Van Staats, while walking to your door this
morning, it was my fortune to meet the late governor, who is permitted by
his creditors to take the air, at an hour when he thinks the eyes of the
impertinent will be shut. I believe, Patroon, you were so lucky as to get
back your moneys, before the royal displeasure visited the man?"
"I was so lucky as never to trust him."
"That was better still, for it would have been a barren investment--great
jeopardy to principal, and no return. But we had discourse of various
interests, and, among others, something was hazarded concerning your
amatory pretensions to my niece."
"Neither the wishes of Oloff Van Staats, nor the inclinations of la belle
Barberie, are a subject for the Governor in Council," said the Patroon of
"Nor was it thus treated. The Viscount spoke me fair, and, had he not
pushed the matter beyond discretion, we might have come to happier
"I am glad that there was some restraint in the discourse."
"The man certainly exceeded reason, for he led the conference into
personalities that no prudent man could relish. Still he said it was
possible that the Coquette might yet be ordered for service among the
It has been said, that Oloff Van Staats was a fair personable young man of
vast stature, and with much of the air of a gentleman of his country; for,
though a British subject, he was rather a Hollander in feelings, habits,
and opinions. He colored at the allusion to the presence of his known
rival, though his companion was at a loss to discover whether pride or
vexation was at the bottom of his emotion.
"If Captain Ludlow prefer a cruise in the Indies, to duty on this coast, I
hope he may obtain his wish," was the cautious answer.
"Your liberal man enjoys a sounding name, and an empty coffer," observed
the Alderman, drily. "To me it seems that a petition to the admiral to
send so meritorious an officer on service where he may distinguish
himself, should deserve his thanks. The freebooters are playing the
devil's game with the sugar trade, and even the French are getting
troublesome, further south."
"He has certainly the reputation of an active cruiser."
"Blixum and philosophy! If you wish to succeed with Alida, Patroon, you
must put more briskness into the adventure. The girl has a cross of the
Frenchman in her temper, and none of your deliberations and taciturnities
will gain the day. This visit to the Lust in Rust is Cupid's own
handywork, and I hope to see you both return to town as amicable as the
Stadtholder and the States General after a sharp struggle for the year's
subsidy has been settled by a compromise."
"The success of this suit is the affair nearest my----" The young man
paused as if surprised at his own communicativeness; and, taking advantage
of the haste in which his toilette had been made, he thrust a hand into
his vest, covering with its broad palm a portion of the human frame which
poets do not describe as the seat of the passions.
"If you mean stomach, Sir, you will not have reason to be disappointed,"
retorted the Alderman, a little more severely than was usual with one so
callous. "The heiress of Myndert Van Beverout will not be a penniless
bride, and Monsieur Barberie did not close the books of life without
taking good care of the balance-sheet--but yonder are those devils of
ferrymen quitting the wharf without us! Scamper ahead, Brutus, and tell
them to wait the legal minute. The rogues are never exact; sometimes
starting before I am ready, and sometimes keeping me waiting in the sun,
as if I were no better than a dried dun-fish. Punctuality is the soul of
business, and one of my habits does not like to be ahead, nor behind his
In this manner the worthy burgher, who would have been glad to regulate
the movements of others, on all occasions, a good deal by his own, vented
his complaints, while he and his companion hurried on to overtake the
slow-moving boat in which they were to embark. A brief description of the
scene will not be without interest, to a generation that may be termed
modern in reference to the time of which we write.
A deep narrow creek penetrated the island, at this point, for the distance
of a quarter of a mile. Each of its banks had a row of buildings, as the
houses line a canal in the cities of Holland. As the natural course of the
inlet was necessarily respected, the street had taken a curvature not
unlike that of a new moon. The houses were ultra-Dutch, being low,
angular, fastidiously neat, and all erected with their gables to the
street. Each had its ugly and inconvenient entrance, termed a stoop, its
vane or weathercock, its dormer-windows, and its graduated
battlement-walls. Near the apex of one of the latter, a little iron crane
projected into the street. A small boat, of the same metal, swung from its
end,--a sign that the building to which it was appended was the
An inherent love of artificial and confined navigation had probably
induced the burghers to select this spot, as the place whence so many
craft departed from the town: since, it is certain, that the two rivers
could have furnished divers points more favorable for such an object,
inasmuch as they possess the advantage of wide and unobstructed channels.
Fifty blacks were already in the street, dipping their brooms into the
creek, and flourishing water over the side-walks, and on the fronts of the
low edifices. This light but daily duty was relieved by clamorous
collisions of wit, and by shouts of merriment, in which the whole street
would join, as with one joyous and reckless movement of the spirit.
The language of this light-hearted and noisy race was Dutch, already
corrupted by English idioms, and occasionally by English words;--a system
of change that has probably given rise to an opinion, among some of the
descendants of the earlier colonists, that the latter tongue is merely a
patois of the former. This opinion, which so much resembles that certain
well-read English scholars entertain of the plagiarisms of the continental
writers, when they first begin to dip into their works, is not strictly
true; since the language of England has probably bestowed as much on the
dialect of which we speak, as it has ever received from the purer sources
of the school of Holland. Here and there, a grave burgher, still in his
night-cap, might be seen with a head thrust out of an upper window,
listening to these barbarisms of speech, and taking note of all the merry
jibes, that flew from mouth to mouth with an indomitable gravity, that no
levity of those beneath could undermine.
As the movement of the ferry-boat was necessarily slow, the Alderman and
his companion were enabled to step into it, before the fasts were thrown
aboard. The periagua, as the craft was called, partook of a European and
an American character. It possessed the length, narrowness, and clean bow,
of the canoe, from which its name was derived, with the flat bottom and
lee-boards of a boat constructed for the shallow waters of the Low
Countries. Twenty years ago, vessels of this description abounded in our
rivers, and even now, their two long and unsupported masts and high
narrow-headed sails, are daily seen bending like reeds to the breeze, and
dancing lightly over the billows of the bay. There is a variety of the
class, of a size and pretension altogether superior to that just
mentioned, which deserves a place among the most picturesque and striking
boats that float. He who has had occasion to navigate the southern shore
of the Sound must have often seen the vessel to which we allude. It is
distinguished by its great length, and masts which, naked of cordage, rise
from the hull like two tall and faultless trees. When the eye runs over
the daring height of canvas, the noble confidence of the rig, and sees the
comparatively vast machine handled with ease and grace by the dexterity of
two fearless and expert mariners, it excites some such admiration as that
which springs from the view of a severe temple of antiquity The nakedness
and simplicity of the construction, coupled with the boldness and rapidity
of its movements, impart to the craft an air of grandeur, that its
ordinary uses would not give reason to expect.
Though, in some respects, of singularly aquatic habits, the original
colonists of New-York were far less adventurous, as mariners, than their
present descendants. A passage across the bay did not often occur in the
tranquil lives of the burghers; and it is still within the memory of man,
that a voyage between the two principal towns of the State was an event to
excite the solicitude of friends, and the anxiety of the traveller. The
perils of the Tappaan Zee, as one of the wider reaches of the Hudson is
still termed, was often dealt with by the good wives of the colony, in
their relations of marvels; and she who had oftenest encountered them
unharmed, was deemed a sort of marine amazon.
"--I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks he hath no drowning
mark upon him; his complexion is perfect gallows."
It has been said that the periagua was in motion, before our two
adventurers succeeded in stepping on board. The arrival of the Patroon of
Kinderhook and of Alderman Van Beverout was expected, and the schipper had
taken his departure at the precise moment of the turn in the current, in
order to show, with a sort of pretending independence which has a peculiar
charm for men in his situation, that 'time and tide wait for no man.'
Still there were limits to his decision; for, while he put the boat in
motion, especial care was taken that the circumstance should not subject a
customer so important and constant as the Alderman, to any serious
inconvenience. When he and his friend had embarked, the painters were
thrown aboard, and the crew of the ferry-boat began to set their vessel,
in earnest, towards the mouth of the creek. During these movements, a
young negro was seated in the bow of the periagua, with his legs dangling,
one on each side of the cut-water, forming no bad apology for a
figure-head. He held a conch to his mouth, and with his two glossy cheeks
inflated like those of Eolus, and his dark glittering eyes expressing the
delight he found in drawing sounds from the shell, he continued to give
forth the signal for departure.
"Put up the conch, thou bawler!" cried the Alderman, giving the younker a
rap on his naked poll, in passing, with the end of his cane, that might
have disturbed the harmony of one less bent on clamor. "A thousand windy
trumpeters would be silence itself, compared to such a pair of lungs! How
now Master Schipper, is this your punctuality, to start before your
passengers are ready?"
The undisturbed boatman, without removing the pipe from his mouth, pointed
to the bubbles on the water which were already floating outward, a certain
evidence that the tide was on the ebb.
"I care nothing for your ins and outs, your ebbs and floods," returned the
Alderman, in heat. "There is no better time-piece than the leg and eye of
a punctual man. It is no more pleasant to go before one is ready, than to
tarry when all business is done. Harkee, Master Schipper, you are not the
only navigator in this bay, nor is your craft the swiftest that was ever
launched. Have a care; though an acquiescing man by nature, I know how to
encourage an opposition, when the public good seriously calls for my
To the attack on himself, the schipper was stoically indifferent, but to
impeach the qualities of the periagua was to attack one who depended
solely on his eloquence for vindication. Removing his pipe, therefore, he
rejoined on the Alderman, with that sort of freedom, that the sturdy
Hollanders never failed to use to all offenders, regardless alike of rank
or personal qualities.
"Der wind-gall and Aldermen!" he growled, in the dialect of the country;
"I should be glad to see the boat in York-bay that can show the Milk-Maid
her stern! The Mayor and council-men had better order the tide to turn
when they please; and then as each man will think of his own pleasure, a
pretty set of whirlpools they will give us in the harbor!"
The schipper, having delivered himself of his sentiments, to this effect,
resumed his pipe, like a man who felt he deserved the meed of victory,
whether he were to receive it, or not.
"It is useless to dispute with an obstinate man," muttered the Alderman
making his way through vegetable baskets, butter-tubs, and all the
garniture of a market-boat, to the place occupied by his niece, in the
stern-sheets. "Good morrow to thee Alida dear; early rising will make a
flower-garden of thy cheeks, and the fresh air of the Lust in Rust will
give even thy roses a deeper bloom."
The mollified burgher then saluted the cheek whose bloom had been deepened
by his remark, with a warmth that showed he was not without natural
affection; touched his hat, in return for a low bow that he received from
an aged white man-servant; in a clean but ancient livery; and nodded to a
young negress, whose second-hand finery sufficiently showed she was a
personal attendant of the heiress.
A second glance at Alida de Barberie was scarcely necessary to betray her
mixed descent. From her Norman father, a Huguenot of the petite noblesse,
she had inherited her raven hair, the large, brilliant coal-black eyes, in
which wildness was singularly relieved by sweetness, a classical and
faultless profile, and a form which was both taller and more flexible than
commonly fell to the lot of the damsels of Holland. From her mother, la
belle Barberie, as the maiden was often playfully termed, had received a
skin, fair and spotless as the flower of France, and a bloom which
rivalled the rich tints of an evening sky in her native land. Some of the
em bon point, for which the sister of the Alderman had been a little
remarkable, had descended also to her fairer daughter. In Alida, however,
this peculiarity did not exceed the fullness which became her years,
rounding her person and softening the outlines of her form, rather than
diminishing its ease and grace These personal advantages were embellished
by a neat but modest travelling habit, a little beaver that was shaded by
a cluster of drooping feathers, and a mien that, under the embarrassment
of her situation preserved the happiest medium between modesty and
When Alderman Van Beverout joined this fair creature, in whose future
happiness he was fully justified in taking the deep interest which he has
betrayed in some of the opening scenes of this volume, he found her
engaged in a courteous discourse with the young man, who was generally
considered as the one, among the numerous pretenders to her favor, who was
most likely to succeed. Had other cause been wanting, this sight alone
would have been sufficient to restore his good-humor: and, making a place
for himself, by quietly dispossessing Francois, the domestic of his niece,
the persevering burgher endeavored to encourage an intercourse, that he
had reason to think must terminate in the result he both meditated and
In the present effort, however, the Alderman failed. There is a feeling
which universally pervades landsmen and landswomen, when they first embark
on an element to which they are strangers, that ordinarily shuts their
mouths and renders them meditative. In the older and more observant
travellers, it is observation and comparison; while with the younger and
more susceptible, it is very apt to take the character of sentiment.
Without stopping to analyze the cause, or the consequences, in the
instance of the Patroon and la belle Barberie, it will be sufficient to
state, that in spite of all the efforts of the worthy burgher, who had
navigated the sluggish creek too often to be the subject of any new
emotions, his youthful companions gradually grew silent and thoughtful.
Though a celibite in his own person, Myndert had not now to learn that the
infant god as often does his mischief through this quiet agency, as in any
other manner. He became, therefore, mute in his turn, watching the slow
movement of the periagua with as much assiduity as if he saw his own
image on the water.
A quarter of an hour of this characteristic, and it is to be inferred
agreeable navigation, brought the boat to the mouth of the inlet. Here a
powerful effort forced her into the tide's-way, and she might be said to
put forth on her voyage. But while the black crew were trimming the sails,
and making the other necessary preparations for departure, a voice was
heard hailing them from the shore, with an order rather than a request,
that they would stay their movements.
"Hilloa, the periagua!" it cried. "Haul over your head-sheet, and jam the
tiller down into the lap of that comfortable-looking old gentleman. Come:
bear a hand, my hummers! or your race-horse of a craft will get the bit
into its mouth, and run away with you."
This summons produced a pause in the movements of the crew. After
regarding each other, in surprise and admiration, the watermen drew the
head-sheet over, put the helm a-lee, without however invading the lap of
the Alderman, and the boat became stationary, at the distance of a few
rods from the shore. While the new passenger was preparing to come off in
a yawl, those who awaited his movements had leisure to examine his
appearance, and to form their different surmises concerning his character.
It is scarcely necessary to say, that the stranger was a son of the ocean.
He was of a firmly knit and active frame, standing exactly six feet in his
stockings. The shoulders though square were compact, the chest full and
high, the limbs round, neat, and muscular,--the whole indicating a form in
which strength and activity were apportioned with the greatest accuracy. A
small bullet head was set firmly on its broad foundation, and it was
thickly covered with a mass of brown hair that was already a little
grizzled. The face was that of a man of thirty, and it was worthy of the
frame, being manly, bold, decided, and rather handsome; though it
expressed little more than high daring, perfect coolness, some obstinacy,
and a certain degree of contempt for others, that its owner did not always
take the trouble to conceal. The color was a rich, deep, and uniform red,
such as much exposure is apt to give to men whose complexions are, by
nature, light and florid.
The dress of the stranger was quite as remarkable as his person. He wore a
short pea-jacket, cut tight and tastefully; a little, low, and rakish cap,
and full bell-mouthed trowsers, all in a spotlessly white duck; a material
well adapted to the season and the climate. The first was made without
buttons, affording an apology for the use of a rich Indian shawl, that
belted his body and kept the garment tight to his frame. Faultlessly clean
linen appeared through the opening above, and a collar, of the same
material, fell over the gay bandanna, which was thrown, with a single
careless turn, around his throat. The latter was a manufacture then little
known in Europe, and its use was almost entirely confined to seamen of the
long voyage. One of its ends was suffered to blow about in the wind, but
the other was brought down with care over the chest, where it was
confined, by springing the blade of a small knife with an ivory handle, in
a manner to confine the silk to the linen: a sort of breast-pin that is
even now much used by mariners. If we add, that light, canvas slippers,
with foul-anchors worked in worsted upon their insteps, covered his feet,
we shall say all that is necessary of his attire.
The appearance of one, of the air and dress we have just described,
excited a strong sensation among the blacks who scrubbed the stoops and
pavements. He was closely attended to the place where he hailed the
periagua, by four or five loungers, who studied his manner and movements
with the admiration that men of their class seldom fail to bestow on those
who bear about them the evidence of having passed lives of adventure, and
perhaps of hardship and daring. Beckoning to one of these idlers to follow
him, the hero of the India-shawl stepped into an empty boat, and casting
loose its fast, he sculled the light yawl towards the craft which was
awaiting his arrival. There was, in truth, something in the reckless air,
the decision, and the manly attitudes of so fine a specimen of a seaman,
that might have attracted notice from those who were more practised in the
world than the little crowd of admirers he left behind him. With an easy
play of wrist and elbow, he caused the yawl to glide ahead like some
indolent marine animal swimming through its element, and as he stood, firm
as a planted statue, with a foot on each gunwale, there was much of that
confidence created by his steadiness, that one acquires by viewing the
repeated and successful efforts of a skilful rope-dancer. When the yawl
reached the side of the periagua, he dropped a small Spanish coin into the
open palm of the negro, and sprang on the side of the latter, with an
exertion of muscle that sent the little boat he quitted half-way back
towards the shore, leaving the frightened black to steady himself, in his
rocking tenement, in the best manner he could.
The tread and posture of the stranger, when he gained the half-deck of the
periagua, was finely nautical, and confident to audacity. He seemed to
analyze the half-maritime character of the crew and passengers, at a
glance, and to feel that sort of superiority over his companions, which
men of his profession were then a little too wont to entertain towards
those whose ambition could be bounded by terra-firma. His eye turned
upward, at the simple rig and modest sails of the periagua, while his
upper lip curled with the knowing expression of a critic. Then kicking the
fore-sheet clear of its elect, and suffering the sail to fill, he stepped
from one butter-tub to another, making a stepping-stone of the lap of a
countryman by the way, and alighted in the stern-sheets in the midst of
the party of Alderman Van Beverout, with the agility and fearlessness of a
feathered Mercury. With a coolness that did infinite credit to his powers
for commandirg, his next act was to dispossess the amazed schipper of the
helm, taking the tiller into his own hands, with as much composure as if
he were the every-day occupant of the post. When he saw that the boat was
beginning to move through the water, he found leisure to bestow some
observation on his fellow-voyagers. The first that met his bold and
reckless eye was Francois, the domestic of Alida.
"If it come to blow in squalls, Commodore," observed the intruder, with a
gravity that half deceived the attentive Frenchman, while he pointed to
the bag in which the latter wore his hair, "you'll be troubled to carry
your broad pennant. But so experienced an officer has not put to sea
without having a storm-cue in readiness for foul weather."
The valet did not, or affected not to understand the allusion, maintaining
an air of dignified but silent superiority.
"The gentleman is in a foreign service, and does not understand an English
mariner! The worst that can come, after all, of too much top-hamper, is to
cut away, and let it drift with the scud. May I make bold to ask, judge,
if the courts have done any thing, of late, concerning the freebooters
among the islands?"
"I have not the honor to bear Her Majesty's commission," coldly returned
Van Staats of Kinderhook, to whom this question had been hardily put.
"The best navigator is sometimes puzzled by a hazy observation, and many
an old seaman has taken a fog-bank for solid ground. Since you are not in
the courts, Sir, I wish you joy; for it is running among shoals to be
cruising there, whether as judge or suitor. One is never fairly snug and
landlocked, while in company of a lawyer, and yet the devil himself cannot
always give the sharks a good offing. A pretty sheet of water, friends,
and one as snug as rotten cables and foul winds can render desirable, is
this bay of York!"
"You are a mariner of the long voyage," returned the Patroon, unwilling
that Alida should not believe him equal to bandying wits with the
"Long, or short; Calcutta, or Cape Cod; dead reckoning, eye-sight, or
star-gazing, all's one to your real dolphin. The shape of the coast
between Fundy and Horn, is as familiar to my eye, as an admirer to this
pretty young lady; and as to the other shore, I have run it down oftener
than the Commodore, here, has ever set his pennant, blow high or blow low.
A cruise like this is a Sunday in my navigation; though I dare say, you
took leave of the wife, blessed the children, overhauled the will, and
sent to ask a good word from the priest, before you came aboard?"
"Had these ceremonies been observed, the danger would not have been
increased," said the young Patroon, anxious to steal a glance at la belle
Barberie, though his timidity caused him, in truth, to look the other way.
"One is never nearer danger, for being prepared to meet it."
"True; we must all die, when the reckoning is out. Hang or drown--gibbet
or bullet clears the world of a great deal of rubbish, or the decks would
get to be so littered that the vessel could not be worked. The last cruise
is the longest of all; and honest papers, with a clean bill of health, may
help a man into port, when he is past keeping the open sea. How now,
schipper! what lies are floating about the docks this morning? when did
the last Albany-man get his tub down the river, or whose gelding has been
ridden to death in chase of a witch."
"The devil's babes!" muttered the Alderman; "there is no want of
roisterers to torment such innocents!"
"Have the buccaneers taken to praying, or does their trade thrive in this
heel of the war?" continued the mariner of the India-shawl, disregarding
the complaint of the burgher. "The times are getting heavy for men of
metal, as may be seen by the manner in which yon cruiser wears out her
ground-tackle, instead of trying the open sea. May I spring every spar I
carry, but I would have the boat out and give her an airing, before
to-morrow, if the Queen would condescend to put your humble servant in
charge of the craft! The man lies there, at his anchors, as if he had a
good freight of real Hollands in his hold, and was waiting for a few bales
of beaver-skins to barter for his strong waters."
As the stranger coolly expressed this opinion of Her Majesty's ship
Coquette, he rolled his glance over the persons of his companions,
suffering it to rest, a moment, with a secret significance, on the steady
eye of the burgher.
"Well--" he continued, "the sloop answers for a floating vane to tell
which way the tide is running, if she does nothing better; and that must
be a great assistance, Schipper, in the navigation of one who keeps as
bright a look-out on the manner in which the world whirls round, as a
gentleman of your sagacity!"
"If the news in the creek be true," rejoined the unoffended owner of the
periagua, "there will be other business for Captain Ludlow and the
Coquette, before many days!"
"Ah! having eaten all his meat and bread, the man will be obliged to
victual his ship anew! 'Twere a pity so active a gentleman should keep a
fast, in a brisk tide's-way. And when his coppers are once more filled,
and the dinner is fairly eaten, what dost think will be his next duty?"
"There is a report, among the boatmen of the South Bay, that something was
seen, yester'night, off the outer side of Long Island!"
"I'll answer for the truth of that rumor, for having come up with the
evening flood, I saw it myself."
"Der duyvel's luck! and what dost take it to be?"
"The Atlantic Ocean; if you doubt my word, I appeal to this well-ballasted
old gentleman, who being a schoolmaster, is able to give you latitude and
longitude for its truth."
"I am Alderman Van Beverout," muttered the object of this new attack,
between his teeth, though apparently but half-disposed to notice one who
set so little bounds to his discourse.
"I beg a thousand pardons!" returned the strange seaman, with a grave
inclination of his body. "The stolidity of your worship's countenance
deceived me. It may be, indeed, unreasonable to expect any Alderman to
know the position of the Atlantic Ocean! And yet, gentlemen, on the honor
of a man who has seen much salt water in his time, I do assure you the
sea, I speak of, is actually there. If there be any thing on it, or in it,
that should not in reason be so, this worthy commander of the periagua
will let us know the rest."
"A wood-boat from the inlet says, the 'Skimmer of the Seas' was lately
seen standing along the coast," returned the ferry-man, in the tone of one
who is certain of delivering matter of general interest.
"Your true sea-dog, who runs in and out of inlets, is a man for marvels!"
coolly observed the stranger. 'They know the color of the sea at night,
and are for ever steering in the wind's eye in search of adventures. I
wonder, more of them are not kept at making almanacs! There was a mistake,
concerning a thunder-storm, in the last I bought, and all for the want of
proper science. And pray, friend, who is this 'Skimmer of the Seas,' that
is said to be running after his needle, like a tailor who has found a hole
in his neighbor's coat?"
"The witches may tell! I only know that such a rover there is, and that he
is here to-day, and there to-morrow. Some say, it is only a craft of mist,
that skims the top of the seas, like a sailing water-fowl, and others
think it is the sprite of a vessel that was rifled and burnt by Kidd, in
the Indian Ocean, looking for its gold and the killed. I saw him once,
myself, but the distance was so great, and his manoeuvres so unnatural,
that I could hardly give a good account of his hull, or rig."
"This is matter that don't get into the log every watch! Whereaway, or in
what seas, didst meet the thing?"
"'Twas off the Branch. We were fishing in thick weather, and when the mist
lifted, a little, there was a craft seen standing in-shore, running like a
race-horse; but while we got our anchor, she had made a league of offing,
on the other tack!"
"A certain proof of either her, or your, activity! But what might have
been the form and shape of your fly-away?"
"Nothing determined. To one she seemed a full-rigged and booming ship;
another took her for a Bermudian scudder, while to me she had the look of
twenty periaguas built into a single craft. It is well known, however,
that a West-Indiaman went to sea that night, and, though it is now three
years, no tidings of her, or her crew, have ever come to any in York. I
have never gone upon the banks to fish since that day, in thick weather."
"You have done well," observed the stranger, "I have seen many wonderful
sights, myself, on the rolling ocean; and he, whose business it is to lay
between wind and water, like you, my friend, should never trust himself
within reach of one of those devil's flyers I could tell you a tale of an
affair in the calm latitudes, under the burning sun, that would be a
lesson to all of over-bold curiosity! Commission and character are not
affairs for your in-shore coaster."
"We have time to hear it," observed the Patroon, whose attention had been
excited by the discourse, and who read in the dark eye of Alida that she
felt an interest in the expected narrative.
But the countenance of the stranger suddenly grew serious. He shook his
head, like one who had sufficient reasons for his silence; and,
relinquishing the tiller, he quite coolly obliged a gaping countryman, in
the centre of the boat, to yield his place, where he laid his own athletic
form, at full length, folded his arms on his breast, and shut his eyes. In
less than five minutes, all within hearing had audible evidence that this
extraordinary son of the ocean was in a sound sleep.
"--Be patient, for the prize I'll bring thee to,
Shall hoodwink this mischance--."
The air, audacity, and language of the unknown mariner, had produced a
marked sensation among the passengers of the periagua. It was plain, by
the playfulness that lurked about the coal-black eye of la belle Barberie,
that she had been amused by his sarcasms, though the boldness of his
manner had caused her to maintain the reserve which she believed necessary
to her sex and condition. The Patroon studied the countenance of his
mistress, and, though half offended by the freedom of the intruder, he had
believed it wisest to tolerate his liberties, as the natural excesses of a
spirit that had been lately released from the monotony of a sea-life. The
repose which usually reigned in the countenance of the Alderman had been a
little troubled; but he succeeded in concealing his discontent from any
impertinent observation. When the chief actor in the foregoing scene,
therefore, saw fit to withdraw, the usual tranquillity was restored, and
his presence appeared to be forgotten.
An ebbing tide and a freshening breeze quickly carried the periagua past
the smaller islands of the bay and brought the cruiser called the Coquette
more distinctly into view. This vessel, a ship of twenty guns, lay abreast
of the hamlet on the shores of Staten Island, which was the destination of
the ferry-boat. Here was the usual anchorage of outward-bound ships, which
awaited a change of wind; and it was here, that vessels then, as in our
times, were subject to those examinations and delays which are imposed for
the safety of the inhabitants of the city. The Coquette was alone,
however; for the arrival of a trader, from a distant port, was an event of
unfrequent occurrence, at the commencement of the eighteenth century.
The course of the periagua brought her within fifty feet of the
sloop-of-war. As the former approached, a movement of curiosity and
interest occurred among those she contained.
"Take more room for your milk-maid," grumbled the Alderman, observing that
the schipper was willing to gratify his passengers, by running as near as
possible to the dark sides of the cruiser. "Seas and oceans! is not
York-bay wide enough, that you must brush the dust out of the muzzles of
the guns of yon lazy ship? If the Queen knew how her money was eaten and
drunk, by the idle knaves aboard her, she would send them all to hunt for
freebooters among the islands. Look at the land, Alida, child, and you'll
think no more of the fright the gaping dunce is giving thee; he only
wishes to show his skill in steering."
But the niece manifested none of the terror that the uncle was willing to
ascribe to her fears. Instead of turning pale, the color deepened on her
cheeks, as the periagua came dancing along, under the lee of the cruiser;
and if her respiration became quicker than usual, it was scarcely produced
by the agitation of alarm. The near sight of the tall masts, and of the
maze of cordage that hung nearly above their heads, however, prevented the
change from being noted. A hundred curious eyes were already peeping at
them, through the ports, or over the bulwarks of the ship, when suddenly,
an officer, who wore the undress of a naval captain of that day, sprang
into the main rigging of the cruiser, and saluted the party in the
periagua, by waving his hat, hurriedly, like one who was agreeably taken
"A fair sky and gentle breezes to each and all!" he cried with the hearty
manner of a seaman. "I kiss my hand to the fair Alida; and the Alderman
will take a sailor's good wishes; Mr. Van Staats, I salute you."
"Ay," muttered the burgher, "your idlers have nothing better to do, than
to make words answer for deeds. A lazy war and a distant enemy make you
seamen the lords of the land, Captain Ludlow."
Alida blushed still deeper, hesitated, and then, by a movement that was
half involuntary, she waved her handkerchief. The young Patroon arose, and
answered the salutation by a courteous bow. By this time the ferry-boat
was nearly past the ship, and the scowl was quitting the face of the
Alderman, when the mariner of the India-shawl sprang to his feet, and, in
a moment, he stood again in the centre of their party.
"A pretty sea-boat, and a neat show aloft!" he said, as his understanding
eye scanned the rigging of the royal cruiser, taking the tiller at the
same time, with all his former indifference, from the hands of the
schipper. "Her Majesty should have good service from such a racer, and no
doubt the youth in her rigging is a man to get most out of his craft.
We'll take another observation. Draw away your head-sheet, boy."
The stranger had put the helm a-lee, while speaking, and by the time the
order he had given was uttered, the quick-working boat was about, and
nearly filled on the other tack. In another minute, she was again brushing
along the side of the sloop-of-war. A common complaint against this hardy
interference with the regular duty of the boat, was about to break out of
the lips of the Alderman and the schipper, when he of the India-shawl
lifted his cap, and addressed the officer in the rigging, with all the
self-possession he had manifested in the intercourse with those nearer his
"Has Her Majesty need of a man in her service who has seen, in his time,
more blue water than hard ground; or is there no empty berth in so gallant
a cruiser, for one who must do a seaman's duty, or starve?"
The descendant of the king-hating Ludlows, as the Lord Cornbury had styled
the race of the commander of the Coquette, was quite as much surprised by
the appearance of him who put this question, as he was by the coolness
with which a mariner of ordinary condition presumed to address an officer
who bore so high a commission as his own. He had, how ever, sufficient
time to recollect in whose presence he stood, ere he replied, for the
stranger had again placed the helm a-lee, and caused the foresail to be
thrown aback;--a change that made the periagua stationary.
"The Queen will always receive a bold mariner in her pay, if he come
prepared to serve with skill and fidelity," he said; "as a proof of which,
let a rope be thrown the periagua; we shall treat more at our ease under
Her Majesty's pennant. I shall be proud to entertain Alderman Van
Beverout, in the mean time: and a cutter will always be at his command,
when he shall have occasion to quit us."
"Your land-loving Aldermen find their way from a Queen's cruiser to the
shore, more easily than a seaman of twenty years' experience;" returned
the other, without giving the burgher time to express his thanks for the
polite offer of the other. "You have gone through the Gibraltar passage,
without doubt, noble captain, being a gentleman that has got so fine a
boat under his orders?"
"Duty has taken me into the Italian seas, more than once," answered
Ludlow, half disposed to resent this familiarity, though too anxious to
keep the periagua near, to quarrel with him who so evidently had produced
the unexpected pleasure.
"Then you know that, though a lady might fan a ship through the straits
eastward, it needs a Levant breeze to bring her out again. Her Majesty's
pennants are long, and when they get foul around the limbs of a
thoroughly-bred sea-dog, it passes all his art to clear the jam. It is
most worthy of remark that the better the seaman, the less his power to
cast loose the knot!"
"If the pennant be so long, it may reach farther than you wish!--But a
bold volunteer has no occasion to dread a press."
"I fear the berth I wish is filled," returned the other, curling his lip:
"let draw the fore-sheet, lad; we will take our departure, leaving the fly
of the pennant well under our lee. Adieu, brave Captain; when you have
need of a thorough rover, and dream of stern-chases and wet sails, think
of him who visited your ship at her lazy moorings."
Ludlow bit his lip, and though his fine face reddened to the temples, he
met the arch glance of Alida, and laughed. But he who had so hardily
braved the resentment of a man, powerful as the commander of a royal
cruiser in a British colony, appeared to understand the hazard of his
situation. The periagua whirled round on her heel, and the next minute it
was bending to the breeze, and dashing through the little waves towards
the shore. Three boats left the cruiser at the same moment. One, which
evidently contained her captain, advanced with the usual dignified
movement of a barge landing an officer of rank, but the others were urged
ahead with all the earnestness of a hot chase.
"Unless disposed to serve the Queen, you have not done well, my friend, to
brave one of her commanders at the muzzles of his guns." observed the
Patroon, so soon as the state of the case became too evident to doubt of
the intentions of the man-of-war's men.
"That Captain Ludlow would gladly take some of us out of this boat, by
fair means or by foul, is a fact clear as a bright star in a cloudless
night; and, well knowing a seaman's duty to his superiors, I shall leave
him to his choice."
"In which case you will shortly eat Her Majesty's bread," pithily returned
"The food is unpalatable, and I reject it--and yet here is a boat, whose'
crew seem determined to make one swallow worse fare."
The unknown mariner ceased speaking, for the situation of the periagua,
was truly getting to be a little critical. At least so it seemed to the
less-instructed landsmen, who were witnesses of this unexpected rencontre.
As the ferry-boat had drawn in with the island, the wind hauled more
through the pass which communicates with the outer bay, and it became
necessary to heave about, twice, in order to fetch to windward of the
usual landing-place. The first of these manoeuvres had been executed, and
as it necessarily changed their course, the passengers saw that the cutter
to which the stranger alluded was enabled to get within-shore of them; or
nearer to the wharf, where they ought to land, than they were themselves.
Instead of suffering himself to be led off by a pursuit, that he knew
might easily be rendered useless, the officer who commanded this boat
cheered his men, and pulled swiftly to the point of debarkation. On the
other hand, a second cutter, which had already reached the line of the
periagua's course, lay on its oars, and awaited its approach. The unknown
mariner manifested no intention to avoid the interview. He still held the
tiller, and as effectually commanded the little vessel as if his authority
were of a more regular character. The audacity and decision of his air and
conduct, aided by the consummate mariner in which he worked the boat,
might alone have achieved this momentary usurpation, had not the general
feeling against impressment been so much in his favor.
"The devil's fangs!" grumbled the schipper. If you should keep the
Milk-Maid away, we shall lose a little in distance, though I think the
man-of-war's men will be puzzled to catch her, with a flowing sheet!"
"The Queen has sent a message by the gentleman," the mariner rejoined: "it
would be unmannerly to refuse to hear it."
"Heave-to, the periagua!" shouted the young officer, in the cutter. "In
Her Majesty's name, I command you, obey."
"God bless the royal lady!" returned he of the foul anchors and gay shawl,
while the swift ferry-boat continued to dash ahead. "We owe her duty, and
are glad to see so proper a gentleman employed in her behalf."
By this time the boats were fifty feet asunder. No sooner was there room,
than the periagua once more flew round, and commenced anew its course,
dashing in again towards the shore. It was necessary, however, to venture
within an oar's-length of the cutter, or to keep away,--a loss of ground
to which he who controlled her movements showed no disposition to submit.
The officer arose, and, as the periagua drew near, it was evident his hand
held a pistol, though he seemed reluctant to exhibit the weapon. The
mariner stepped aside, in a manner to offer a full view of all in his
group, as he sarcastically observed--
"Choose your object, Sir; in such a party, a man of sentiment may have a
The young man colored, as much with shame at, the degrading duty he had
been commissioned to perform, as with vexation at his failure. Recovering
his self-composure, however, he lifted his hat to la belle Barberie, and
the periagua dashed on, in triumph. Still the leading cutter was near the
shore, where it soon arrived, the crew lying on their oars at the end of
the wharf, in evident expectation of the arrival of the ferry-boat. At
this sight, the schipper shook his head, and looked up in the bold face of
his passenger, in a manner to betray how much his mind misgave the result.
But the tail mariner maintained his coolness, and began to make merry
allusions to the service which he had braved with so much temerity, and
from which no one believed he was yet likely to escape. By the former
manoeuvres, the periagua had gained a position well to windward of the
wharf; and she was now steered close upon the wind, directly for the
shore. Against the consequences of a perseverance in this course, however,
the schipper saw fit to remonstrate.
"Shipwrecks and rocky bottoms!" exclaimed the alarmed waterman. "A Holland
galliot would go to pieces, if you should run her in among those
stepping-stones, with this breeze! No honest boatman loves to see a man
stowed in a cruiser's hold, like a thief caged in his prison; but when it
comes to breaking the nose of the Milk-Maid, it is asking too much of her
owner, to stand by and look on."
"There shall not be a dimple of her lovely countenance deranged," answered
his cool passenger. "Now, lower away your sails, and we'll run along the
shore, down to yon wharf. 'Twould be an ungallant act to treat the
dairy-girl with so little ceremony, gentlemen, after the lively foot and
quick evolutions she has shown in our behalf. The best dancer in the
island could not have better played her part, though jigging under the
music of a three-stringed fiddle!"
By this time the sails were lowered, and the periagua was gliding down
towards the place of landing, running always at the distance of some fifty
feet from the shore.
"Every craft has its allotted time, like a mortal," continued the
inexplicable mariner of the India-shawl. "If she is to die a sudden death,
there is your beam-end and stern-way, which takes her into the grave
without funeral service, or parish prayers; your dropsy is being
water-logged; gout and rheumatism kill like a broken back and loose
joints; indigestion is a shifting cargo, with guns adrift; the gallows is
a bottomry-bond, with lawyers' fees; while fire, drowning, death by
religious melancholy, and suicide, are a careless gunner, sunken rocks,
false lights, and a lubberly captain."
Ere any were apprized of his intention, this singular being then sprang
from the boat on the cap of a little rock, over which the waves were
washing, whence he bounded, from stone to stone, by vigorous efforts, till
he fairly leaped to land. In another minute, he was lost to view, among
the dwellings of the hamlet.
The arrival of the periagua, which immediately after reached the wharf,
the disappointment of the cutter's crew, and the return of both the boats
to their ship, succeeded as matters of course.
_Oliv._ "Did he write this?"
_Clo._ "Ay, Madam."
What You Will.
If we say that Alida de Barberie did not cast a glance behind her, as the
party quitted the wharf, in order to see whether the boat that contained
the commander of the cruiser followed the example of the others, we shall
probably portray the maiden as one that was less subject to the influence
of coquetry than the truth would justify. To the great discontent of the
Alderman, whatever might have been the feelings of his niece, on the
occasion, the barge continued to approach the shore, in a manner which
showed that the young seaman betrayed no visible interest in the result of
The heights of Staten Island, a century ago, were covered, much as they
are at present, with a growth of dwarf-trees. Foot-paths led among this
meagre vegetation, in divers directions; and as the hamlet at the
Quarantine-Ground was the point whence they all diverged, it required a
practised guide to thread their mazes, without a loss of both time and
distance. It would seem, however, that the worthy burgher was fully equal
to the office; for, moving with more than his usual agility, he soon led
his companions into the wood, and, by frequently altering his course, so
completely confounded their sense of the relative bearings of places, that
it is not probable one of them all could very readily have extricated
himself from the labyrinth.
"Clouds and shady bowers!" exclaimed Myndert, when he had achieved, to his
own satisfaction, this evasion of the pursuit he wished to avoid; "little
oaks and green pines are pleasant on a June morning. You shall have
mountain air and a sea-breeze Patroon, to quicken the appetite at the Lust
in Rust. If Alicia will speak, the girl can say that a mouthful of the
elixir is better for a rosy cheek, than all the concoctions and washes
that were ever invented to give a man a heart-ache."
"If the place be as much changed as the road that leads to it," returned
la belle Barberie, glancing her dark eye, in vain, in the direction of the
bay they had quitted, "I should scarcely venture an opinion on a subject
of which I am obliged to confess utter ignorance."
"Ah, woman is nought but vanities! To see and to be seen, is the delight
of the sex. Though we are a thousand times more comfortable in this wood
than we should be in walking along the water-side, why, the sea-gulls and
snipes lose the benefit of our company! The salt water, and all who live
on it, are to be avoided by a wise man, Mr. Van Staats, except as they
both serve to cheapen freight and to render trade brisk. You'll thank me
for this care, niece of mine, when you reach the bluff, cool as a package
of furs free from moth, and fresh and beautiful as a Holland tulip, with
the dew on it."
"To resemble the latter, one might consent to walk blindfold, dearest
uncle; and so we dismiss the subject. Francois, fais moi le plaisir de
porter ce petit livre; malgre la fraicheur de la foret, j'ai besoin de
The valet took the book, with an empressement that defeated the more tardy
politeness of the Patroon; and when he saw, by the vexed eye and flushed
cheek of his young mistress, that she was incommoded rather by an internal
than by the external heat, he whispered considerately,--
"Que ma chere Mademoiselle Alide ne se fache pas! Elle ne manquerait
jamais d'admirateurs, dans un desert. Ah! si Mam'selle allait voir la
patrie de ses ancetres!--"
"'Merci bien, mon cher; gardez les feuilles, fortement fermees. Il y a des
"Monsieur Francois," said the Alderman, separating his niece, with little
ceremony, from her nearly parental attendant, by the interposition of his
own bulky person, and motioning for the others to proceed, "a word with
thee in confidence. I have noted, in the course of a busy and I hope a
profitable life, that a faithful servant is an honest counsellor. Next to
Holland and England, both of which are great commercial nations, and the
Indies, which are necessary to these colonies, together with a natural
preference for the land in which I was born, I have always been of
opinion, that France is a very good sort of a country. I think, Mr.
Francis, that dislike to the seas has kept you from returning thither,
since the decease of my late brother-in-law?"
"Wid like for Mam'selle Alide, Monsieur, avec votre permission."
"Your affection for my niece, honest Francois, is not to be doubted. It is
as certain as the payment of a good draft, by Crommeline, Van Stopper, and
Van Gelt, of Amsterdam. Ah! old valet! she is fresh and blooming as a
rose, and a girl of excellent qualities! 'Tis a pity that she is a little
opinionated; a defect that she doubtless inherits from her Norman
ancestors; since all of my family have ever been remarkable for listening
to reason. The Normans were an obstinate race, as witness the siege of
Rochelle, by which oversight real estate in that city must have lost much
"Mille excuses, Monsieur Bevre'----; more beautiful as de rose, and no
opinatre du tout. Mon Dieu! pour sa qualite, c'est une famille tres
"That was a weak point with my brother Barberie, and, after all, it did
not add a cipher to the sum-total of the assets. The best blood, Mr.
Francois, is that which has been best fed. The line of Hugh Capet himself
would fail, without the butcher; and the butcher would certainly fail,
without customers that can pay. Francois, thou art a man who understands
the value of a sure footing in the world; would it not be a thousand
pities, that such a girl as Alida should throw herself away on one whose
best foundation is no better than a rolling ship?"
"Certainement, Monsieur; Mam'selle be too good to roll in de ship."
"Obliged to follow a husband, up and down; among freebooters and dishonest
traders; in fair weather and foul; hot and cold; wet and dry; bilge-water
and salt-water; cramps and nausea; salt-junk and no junk; gales and
calms,--and all for a hasty judgment formed in sanguine youth."
The face of the valet had responded to the Alderman's enumeration of the
evils that would attend so ill-judged a step in his niece, as faithfully
as if each muscle had been a mirror, to reflect the contortions of one
suffering under the malady of the sea.
"Parbleu, c'est horrible cette mer!" he ejaculated; when the other had
done. "It is grand malheur, dere should be watair but for drink, and for
la proprete, avec fosse to keep de carp round le chateau. Mais, Mam'selle
be no haste jugement, and she shall have mari on la terre solide."
"'Twould be better, that the estate of my brother-in-law should be kept in
sight, judicious Francois, than to be sent adrift on the high seas."
"Dere vas marin dans la famille de Barberie nevair."
"Bonds and balances! if the savings of one I could name, frugal Francois,
were added in current coin the sum-total would sink a common ship. You
know it is my intention to remember Alida, in settling accounts with the
"If Monsieur de Barberie vas 'live, Monsieur Alderman, he should say des
choses convenables; mais, malheureusement, mon cher, maitre est mort; and,
sair, I shall be bold to remercier pour lui, et pour toute sa famille."
"Women are perverse, and sometimes they have pleasure in doing the very
thing they are desired not to do."
"Ma foi, oui!"
"Prudent men should manage them with soft words and rich gifts; with
these, they become orderly as a pair of well-broke geldings."
"Monsieur know," said the old valet, rubbing his hands, and laughing with
the subdued voice of a well-bred domestic, though he could not conceal a
jocular wink; "pourtant il est garcon! Le cadeau be good for de
demoiselles, and bettair as for de dames."
"Wedlock and blinkers! it is we gassons, as you call us, who ought to
know. Your hen-pecked husband has no time to generalize among the sex, in
order to understand the real quality of the article. Now, here is Van
Staats of Kinderhook, faithful Francois; what think you of such a youth
for a husband for Alida?"
"Pourtant, Mam'selle like de vivacite; Monsieur le Patroon be nevair trop
"The more likely to be sure--Hist, I hear a footstep. We are
followed--chased, perhaps, I should say, to speak in the language of these
sea-gentry. Now is the time to show this Captain Ludlow, how a Frenchman
can wind him round his finger, on terra-firma. Loiter in the rear, and
draw our navigator on a wrong course. When he has run into a fog, come
yourself, with all speed, to the oak on the bluff. There we shall await
Flattered by this confidence, and really persuaded that he was furthering
the happiness of her he served, the old valet nodded, in reply to the
Alderman's wink and chuckle, and immediately relaxed his speed. The former
pushed ahead; and, in a minute, he and those who followed had turned short
to the left, and were out of sight.
Though faithfully and even affectionately attached to Alida, her servant
had many of the qualifications of an European domestic. Trained in all the
ruses of his profession, he was of that school which believes civilization
is to be measured by artifice; and success lost some of its value, when it
had been effected by the vulgar machinery of truth and common sense. No
wonder then the retainer entered into the views of the Alderman, with more
than a usual relish for the duty. He heard the cracking of the dried twigs
beneath the footstep of him who followed; and in order that there might be
no chance of missing the desired interview, the valet began to hum a
French air, in so loud a key, as to be certain the sounds would reach any
ear that was nigh. The twigs snapped more rapidly, the footsteps seemed
nearer, and then the hero of the India-shawl sprang to the side of the
The disappointment seemed mutual, and on the part of the domestic it
entirely disconcerted all his pre-arranged schemes for misleading the
commander of the Coquette. Not so with the bold mariner. So far from his
self-possession being disturbed, it would have been no easy matter to
restrain his audacity ever in situations far more trying than any in which
he has yet been presented to the reader.
"What cheer, in thy woodland cruise, Monsieur Broad-Pennant?" he said,
with infinite coolness, the instant his steady glance had ascertained they
were alone. "This is safer navigation for an officer of thy draught of
water, than running about the bay, in a periagua. What may be the
longitude, and where-a-way did you part company from the consorts?"
"Sair, I valk in de vood for de plaisir, and I go on de bay for
de--parbleu, non! 'tis to follow ma jeune maitresse I go on de bay; and,
sair, I wish dey who do love de bay and de sea, would not come into de
vood, du tout."
"Well spoken, and with ample spirit;--what, a student too! one in a wood
should glean something from his labors. Is it the art of furling a main
cue, that is taught in this pretty volume?"
As the mariner put his question, he very deliberately took the book from
Francois, who, instead of resenting the liberty, rather offered the
volume, in exultation.
"No, sair, it is not how to furl la queue, but how to touch de soul; not
de art to haul over de calm, but--oui, c'est plein de connoissance et
d'esprit! Ah! ha! you know de Cid! le grand homme! l'homme de genie! If
you read, Monsieur Marin, you shall see la vraie poesie! Not de big book
and no single rhyme--Sair, I do not vish to say vat is penible, mais it is
not one book widout rhyme; it was not ecrit on de sea. Le diable! que le
vrai genie, et les nobles sentiments, se trouvent dans ce livre, la!"
"Ay, I see it is a log-book, for every man to note his mind in. I return
you Master Cid, with his fine sentiments, in the bargain. Great as was his
genius, it would seem he was not the man to write all that I find between
"He not write him all! Yes, sair, he shall write him six time more dan
all, if la France a besoin. Que l'envie de ces Anglais se decouvre quand
on parle des beaux genies de la France!"
"I will only say, if the gentleman wrote the whole that is in the book,
and it is as fine as you would make a plain seafaring man believe, he did
wrong not to print it."
"Print!" echoed Francois, opening his eyes, and the volume, by a common
impulse, "Imprime! ha! here is papier of Mam'selle Alide, assurement."
"Take better heed of it then," interrupted the seaman of the shawl. "As
for your Cid, to me it is an useless volume, since it teaches neither the
latitude of a shoal, nor the shape of a coast."
"Sair, it teach de morale; de rock of de passion et les grands mouvements
de l'ame! Oui, Sair; it teach all, un Monsieur vish to know. Tout le monde
read him in la France; en province, comme en ville. If sa Majeste, le
Grand Louis, be not so mal avise, as to chasser Messieurs les Huguenots
from his royaume, I shall go to Paris, to hear le Cid, moi-meme!"
"A good journey to you, Monsieur Cue. We may meet on the road, until which
time I take my departure. The day may come, when we shall converse with a
rolling sea beneath us. Till then, brave cheer!"
"Adieu, Monsieur," returned Francois, bowing with a politeness that had
become too familiar to be forgotten. "If we do not meet but in de sea, we
shall not meet, nevair. Ah, ha, ha! Monsieur le Marin n'aime pas a
entendre parler de la gloire de la France! Je voudrais bien savoir lire ce
f--e Shak-a-spear, pour voir, combien l'immortel Corneille lui est
superieur. Ma foi, oui; Monsieur Pierre Corneille est vraiment un homme
The faithful, self-complacent, and aged valet then pursued his way towards
the large oak on the bluff; for as he ceased speaking, the mariner of the
gay sash had turned deeper into the woods, and left him alone. Proud of
the manner, in which he had met the audacity of the stranger, prouder
still of the reputation of the author, whose fame had been known in France
long before his own departure from Europe, and not a little consoled with
the reflection that he had contributed his mite to support the honor of
his distant and well-beloved country, the honest Francois pressed the
volume affectionately beneath his arm, and hastened on after his mistress.
Though the position of Staten Island and its surrounding bays is so
familiar to the Manhattanese an explanation of the localities may be
agreeable to readers who dwell at a distance from the scene of the tale.
It has already been said, that the principal communication between the
bays of Raritan and York, is called the Narrows. At the mouth of this
passage, the land on Staten Island rises in a high bluff, which overhangs
the water, not unlike the tale-fraught cape of Misenum. From this elevated
point, the eye not only commands a view of both estuaries and the city,
but it looks far beyond the point of Sandy-Hook, into the open sea. It is
here that, in our own days, ships are first noted in the offing, and
whence the news of the approach of his vessel is communicated to the
expecting merchant by means of the telegraph. In the early part of the
last century, arrivals were too rare to support such an establishment. The
bluff was therefore little resorted to, except by some occasional admirer
of scenery, or by those countrymen whom business, at long intervals, drew
to the spot. It had been early cleared of its wood, and the oak already
mentioned was the only tree standing in a space of some ten or a dozen
It has been seen that Alderman Van Beverout had appointed this solitary
oak, as the place of rendezvous with Francois. Thither then he took his
way on parting from the valet, and to this spot we must now transfer the
scene. A rude seat had been placed around the root of the tree, and here
the whole party, with the exception of the absent domestic, were soon
seated: In a minute, however, they were joined by the exulting Francois,
who immediately related the particulars of his recent interview with the
"A clear conscience, with cordial friends, and a fair balance-sheet, may
keep a man warm in January, even in this climate," said the Alderman,
willing to turn the discourse; "but what with rebellious blacks, hot
streets, and spoiling furs, it passeth mortal powers to keep cool in
yonder overgrown and crowded town. Thou seest, Patroon, the spot of white
on the opposite side of the bay.--Breezes and fanning! that is the Lust in
Rust, where cordial enters the mouth at every breath, and where a man has
room to cast up the sum-total of his thoughts, any hour in the
"We seem quite as effectually alone on this hill, with the advantage of