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Title: Myths and Legends of Our Own Land — Volume 02 : the Isle of Manhattoes and nearby
Author: Skinner, Charles M. (Charles Montgomery), 1852-1907
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myths and Legends of Our Own Land — Volume 02 : the Isle of Manhattoes and nearby" ***

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                           MYTHS AND LEGENDS
                              OUR OWN LAND

                           Charles M. Skinner

                                Vol. 2.



Dolph Heyliger
The Knell at the Wedding
Roistering Dirck Van Dara
The Party from Gibbet Island
Miss Britton's Poker
The Devil's Stepping-Stones
The Springs of Blood and Water
The Crumbling Silver
The Cortelyou Elopement
Van Wempel's Goose
The Weary Watcher
The Rival Fiddlers
Mark of the Spirit Hand
The First Liberal Church



New York was New Amsterdam when Dolph Heyliger got himself born there,--a
graceless scamp, though a brave, good-natured one, and being left
penniless on his father's death he was fain to take service with a
doctor, while his mother kept a shop. This doctor had bought a farm on
the island of Manhattoes--away out of town, where Twenty-third Street now
runs, most likely--and, because of rumors that its tenants had noised
about it, he seemed likely to enjoy the responsibilities of landholding
and none of its profits. It suited Dolph's adventurous disposition that
he should be deputed to investigate the reason for these rumors, and for
three nights he kept his abode in the desolate old manor, emerging after
daybreak in a lax and pallid condition, but keeping his own counsel, to
the aggravation of the populace, whose ears were burning for his news.

Not until long after did he tell of the solemn tread that woke him in the
small hours, of his door softly opening, though he had bolted and locked
it, of a portly Fleming, with curly gray hair, reservoir boots, slouched
hat, trunk and doublet, who entered and sat in the arm-chair, watching
him until the cock crew. Nor did he tell how on the third night he
summoned courage, hugging a Bible and a catechism to his breast for
confidence, to ask the meaning of the visit, and how the Fleming arose,
and drawing Dolph after him with his eyes, led him downstairs, went
through the front door without unbolting it, leaving that task for the
trembling yet eager youth, and how, after he had proceeded to a disused
well at the bottom of the garden, he vanished from sight.

Dolph brooded long upon these things and dreamed of them in bed. He
alleged that it was in obedience to his dreams that he boarded a schooner
bound up the Hudson, without the formality of adieu to his employer, and
after being spilled ashore in a gale at the foot of Storm King, he fell
into the company of Anthony Vander Hevden, a famous landholder and
hunter, who achieved a fancy for Dolph as a lad who could shoot, fish,
row, and swim, and took him home with him to Albany. The Heer had
commodious quarters, good liquor, and a pretty daughter, and Dolph felt
himself in paradise until led to the room he was to occupy, for one of
the first things that he set eyes on in that apartment was a portrait of
the very person who had kept him awake for the worse part of three nights
at the bowerie in Manhattoes. He demanded to know whose picture it was,
and learned that it was that of Killian Vander Spiegel, burgomaster and
curmudgeon, who buried his money when the English seized New Amsterdam
and fretted himself to death lest it should be discovered. He remembered
that his mother had spoken of this Spiegel and that her father was the
miser's rightful heir, and it now appeared that he was one of Heyden's
forbears too. In his dream that night the Fleming stepped out of the
portrait, led him, as he had done before, to the well, where he smiled
and vanished. Dolph reflected, next morning, that these things had been
ordered to bring together the two branches of the family and disclose the
whereabouts of the treasure that it should inherit. So full was he of
this idea that he went back to New Amsterdam by the first schooner, to
the surprise of the Heer and the regret of his daughter.

After the truant had been received with execrations by the doctor and
with delight by his mother, who believed that spooks had run off with
him, and with astonishment, as a hero of romance, by the public, he made
for the haunted premises at the first opportunity and began to angle at
the disused well. Presently he found his hook entangled in something at
the bottom, and on lifting slowly he discovered that he had secured a
fine silver porringer, with lid held down by twisted wire. It was the
work of a moment to wrench off the lid, when he found the vessel to be
filled with golden pieces. His fishing that day was attended with such
luck as never fell to an angler before, for there were other pieces of
plate down there, all engraved with the Spiegel arms and all containing

By encouraging the most dreadful stories about the spot, in order to keep
the people wide away from it, he accomplished the removal of his prizes
bit by bit from their place of concealment to his home. His unaccounted
absence in Albany and his dealings with the dead had prepared his
neighbors for any change in himself or his condition, and now that he
always had a bottle of schnapps for the men and a pot of tea for the
women, and was good to his mother, they said that they had always known
that when he changed it would be for the better,--at which his old
detractors lifted their eyebrows significantly--and when asked to dinner
by him they always accepted.

Moreover, they made merry when the day came round for his wedding with
the little maid of Albany. They likewise elected him a member of the
corporation, to which he bequeathed some of the Spiegel plate and often
helped the other city fathers to empty the big punch-bowl. Indeed, it was
at one of these corporation feasts that he died of apoplexy. He was
buried with honors in the yard of the Dutch church in Garden Street.


A young New Yorker had laid such siege to the heart of a certain
belle--this was back in the Knickerbocker days when people married for
love--that everybody said the banns were as good as published; but
everybody did not know, for one fine morning my lady went to church with
another gentleman--not her father, though old enough to be--and when the
two came out they were man and wife. The elderly man was rich. After the
first paroxysm of rage and disappointment had passed, the lover withdrew
from the world and devoted himself to study; nor when he learned that she
had become a widow, with comfortable belongings derived from the estate
of the late lamented, did he renew acquaintance with her, and he smiled
bitterly when he heard of her second marriage to a young adventurer who
led her a wretched life, but atoned for his sins, in a measure, by dying
soon enough afterward to leave a part of her fortune unspent.

In the lapse of time the doubly widowed returned to New York, where she
met again the lover of her youth. Mr. Ellenwood had acquired the reserve
of a scholar, and had often puzzled his friends with his eccentricities;
but after a few meetings with the object of his young affection he came
out of his glooms, and with respectful formality laid again at her feet
the heart she had trampled on forty years before. Though both of them
were well on in life, the news of their engagement made little of a
sensation. The widow was still fair; the wooer was quiet, refined, and
courtly, and the union of their fortunes would assure a competence for
the years that might be left to them. The church of St. Paul, on
Broadway, was appointed for the wedding, and it was a whim of the groom
that his bride should meet him there. At the appointed hour a company of
the curious had assembled in the edifice; a rattle of wheels was heard,
and a bevy of bridesmaids and friends in hoop, patch, velvet, silk,
powder, swords, and buckles walked down the aisle; but just as the bride
had come within the door, out of the sunlight that streamed so
brilliantly on the mounded turf and tombstones in the churchyard, the
bell in the steeple gave a single boom.

The bride walked to the altar, and as she took her place before it
another clang resounded from the belfry. The bridegroom was not there.
Again and again the brazen throat and iron tongue sent out a doleful
knell, and faces grew pale and anxious, for the meaning of it could not
be guessed. With eyes fixed on the marble tomb of her first husband, the
woman tremblingly awaited the solution of the mystery, until the door was
darkened by something that made her catch her breath--a funeral. The
organ began a solemn dirge as a black-cloaked cortege came through the
aisle, and it was with amazement that the bride discovered it to be
formed of her oldest friends,--bent, withered; paired, man and woman, as
in mockery--while behind, with white face, gleaming eyes, disordered
hair, and halting step, came the bridegroom, in his shroud.

"Come," he said,--"let us be married. The coffins are ready. Then, home to
the tomb."

"Cruel!" murmured the woman.

"Now, Heaven judge which of us has been cruel. Forty years ago you took
away my faith, destroyed my hopes, and gave to others your youth and
beauty. Our lives have nearly run their course, so I am come to wed you
as with funeral rites." Then, in a softer manner, he took her hand, and
said, "All is forgiven. If we cannot live together we will at least be
wedded in death. Time is almost at its end. We will marry for eternity.
Come." And tenderly embracing her, he led her forward. Hard as was the
ordeal, confusing, frightening, humiliating, the bride came through it a
better woman.

"It is true," she said, "I have been vain and worldly, but now, in my
age, the truest love I ever knew has come back to me. It is a holy love.
I will cherish it forever." Their eyes met, and they saw each other
through tears. Solemnly the clergyman read the marriage service, and when
it was concluded the low threnody that had come from the organ in key
with the measured clang of the bell, merged into a nobler motive, until
at last the funeral measures were lost in a burst of exultant harmony.
Sobs of pent feeling and sighs of relief were heard as the bridal party
moved away, and when the newmade wife and husband reached the portal the
bell was silent and the sun was shining.


In the days when most of New York stood below Grand Street, a roistering
fellow used to make the rounds of the taverns nightly, accompanied by a
friend named Rooney. This brave drinker was Dirck Van Dara, one of the
last of those swag-bellied topers that made merry with such solemnity
before the English seized their unoffending town. It chanced that Dirck
and his chum were out later than usual one night, and by eleven o'clock,
when all good people were abed, a drizzle set in that drove the watch to
sleep in doorways and left Broadway tenantless. As the two choice spirits
reeled out of a hostelry near Wall Street and saw the lights go out in
the tap-room windows they started up town to their homes in Leonard
Street, but hardly had they come abreast of old St. Paul's when a strange
thing stayed them: crying was heard in the churchyard and a
phosphorescent light shone among the tombs. Rooney was sober in a moment,
but not so Dirck Van Dara, who shouted, "Here is sport, friend Rooney.
Let's climb the wall. If the dead are for a dance, we will take partners
and show them how pigeons' wings are cut nowadays."

"No," exclaimed the other; "those must perish who go among the dead when
they come out of their graves. I've heard that if you get into their
clutches, you must stay in purgatory for a hundred years, and no priest
can pray you out."

"Bah! old wives' tales! Come on!" And pulling his friend with him, they
were over the fence. "Hello! what have we here?" As he spoke a haggard
thing arose from behind a tombstone, a witchlike creature, with rags
falling about her wasted form and hair that almost hid her face. The
twain were set a-sneezing by the fumes of sulphur, and Rooney swore
afterwards that there were little things at the end of the yard with
grinning faces and lights on the ends of their tails. Old Hollands are
heady. Dirck began to chaff the beldam on her dilapidation, but she
stopped his talk by dipping something from a caldron behind her and
flinging it over both of her visitors. Whatever it was, it burned
outrageously, and with a yell of pain they leaped the wall more briskly
than they had jumped it the other way, and were soon in full flight. They
had not gone far when the clock struck twelve.

"Arrah! there's a crowd of them coming after," panted Rooney. "Ave Mary!
I've heard that if you die with witch broth being thrown over you, you're
done for in the next world, as well as this. Let us get to Father
Donagan's. Wow!"

As he made this exclamation the fugitives found their way opposed by a
woman, who looked at them with immodest eyes and said, "Dirck Van Dara,
your sire, in wig and bob, turned us Cyprians out of New York, after
ducking us in the Collect. But we forgive him, and to prove it we ask you
to our festival."

At the stroke of midnight the street before the church had swarmed with a
motley throng, that now came onward, waving torches that sparkled like
stars. They formed a ring about Dirck and began to dance, and he, nothing
loth, seized the nymph who had addressed him and joined in the revel. Not
a soul was out or awake except themselves, and no words were said as the
dance went wilder to strains of weird and unseen instruments. Now and
then one would apply a torch to the person of Dirck, meanly assailing him
in the rear, and the smart of the burn made him feet it the livelier. At
last they turned toward the Battery as by common consent, and went
careering along the street in frolic fashion. Rooney, whose senses had
thus far been pent in a stupor, fled with a yell of terror, and as he
looked back he saw the unholy troop disappearing in the mist like a
moving galaxy. Never from that night was Dirck Van Data seen or heard of
more, and the publicans felt that they had less reason for living.


Ellis Island, in New York harbor, once bore the name of Gibbet Island,
because pirates and mutineers were hanged there in chains. During the
times when it was devoted to this fell purpose there stood in Communipaw
the Wild Goose tavern, where Dutch burghers resorted, to smoke, drink
Hollands, and grow fat, wise, and sleepy in each others' company. The
plague of this inn was Yan Yost Vanderscamp, a nephew of the landlord,
who frequently alarmed the patrons of the house by putting powder into
their pipes and attaching briers beneath their horses' tails, and who
naturally turned pirate when he became older, taking with him to sea his
boon companion, an ill-disposed, ill-favored blackamoor named Pluto, who
had been employed about the tavern. When the landlord died, Vanderscamp
possessed himself of this property, fitted it up with plunder, and at
intervals he had his gang ashore,--such a crew of singing, swearing,
drinking, gaming devils as Communipaw had never seen the like of; yet the
residents could not summon activity enough to stop the goings-on that
made the Wild Goose a disgrace to their village. The British authorities,
however, caught three of the swashbucklers and strung them up on Gibbet
Island, and things that went on badly in Communipaw after that went on
with quiet and secrecy.

The pirate and his henchmen were returning to the tavern one night, after
a visit to a rakish-looking vessel in the offing, when a squall broke in
such force as to give their skiff a leeway to the place of executions. As
they rounded that lonely reef a creaking noise overhead caused
Vanderscamp to look up, and he could not repress a shudder as he saw the
bodies of his three messmates, their rags fluttering and their chains
grinding in the wind.

"Don't you want to see your friends?" sneered Pluto. "You, who are never
afraid of living men, what do you fear from the dead?"

"Nothing," answered the pirate. Then, lugging forth his bottle, he took a
long pull at it, and holding it toward the dead felons, he shouted,
"Here's fair weather to you, my lads in the wind, and if you should be
walking the rounds to-night, come in to supper."

A clatter of bones and a creak of chains sounded like a laugh. It was
midnight when the boat pulled in at Communipaw, and as the storm
continued Vanderscamp, drenched to the skin, made quick time to the Wild
Goose. As he entered, a sound of revelry overhead smote his ear, and,
being no less astonished than in need of cordials, he hastened up-stairs
and flung open the door. A table stood there, furnished with jugs and
pipes and cans, and by light of candles that burned as blue as brimstone
could be seen the three gallows-birds from Gibbet Island, with halters on
their necks, clinking their tankards together and trolling forth a

Starting back with affright as the corpses hailed him with lifted arms
and turned their fishy eyes on him, Vanderscamp slipped at the door and
fell headlong to the bottom of the stairs. Next morning he was found
there by the neighbors, dead to a certainty, and was put away in the
Dutch churchyard at Bergen on the Sunday following. As the house was
rifled and deserted by its occupants, it was hinted that the negro had
betrayed his master to his fellow-buccaneers, and that he, Pluto, was no
other than the devil in disguise. But he was not, for his skiff was seen
floating bottom up in the bay soon after, and his drowned body lodged
among the rocks at the foot of the pirates' gallows.

For a long time afterwards the island was regarded as a place that
required purging with bell, book, and candle, for shadows were reported
there and faint lights that shot into the air, and to this day, with the
great immigrant station on it and crowds going and coming all the time,
the Battery boatmen prefer not to row around it at night, for they are
likely to see the shades of the soldier and his mistress who were drowned
off the place one windy night, when the girl was aiding the fellow to
escape confinement in the guard-house, to say nothing of Vanderscamp and
his felons.


The maids of Staten Island wrought havoc among the royal troops who were
quartered among them during the Revolution. Near quarantine, in an old
house,--the Austen mansion,--a soldier of King George hanged himself
because a Yankee maid who lived there would not have him for a husband,
nor any gentleman whose coat was of his color; and, until ghosts went out
of fashion, his spirit, in somewhat heavy boots, with jingling spurs,
often disturbed the nightly quiet of the place.

The conduct of a damsel in the old town of Richmond was even more stern.
She was the granddaughter, and a pretty one, of a farmer named Britton;
but though Britton by descent and name, she was no friend of Britons,
albeit she might have had half the officers in the neighboring camp at
her feet, if she had wished them there. Once, while mulling a cup of
cider for her grandfather, she was interrupted by a self-invited
myrmidon, who undertook, in a fashion rude and unexpected, to show the
love in which he held her. Before he could kiss her, the girl drew the
hot poker from the mug of drink and jabbed at the vitals of her amorous
foe, burning a hole through his scarlet uniform and printing on his burly
person a lasting memento of the adventure. With a howl of pain the fellow
rushed away, and the privacy of the Britton family was never again
invaded, at least whilst cider was being mulled.


When the devil set a claim to the fair lands at the north of Long Island
Sound, his claim was disputed by the Indians, who prepared to fight for
their homes should he attempt to serve his writ of ejectment. Parley
resulted in nothing, so the bad one tried force, but he was routed in
open fight and found it desirable to get away from the scene of action as
soon as possible. He retreated across the Sound near the head of East
River. The tide was out, so he stepped from island to island, without
trouble, and those reefs and islands are to this day the Devil's
Stepping-Stones. On reaching Throgg's Neck he sat down in a despairing
attitude and brooded on his defeat, until, roused to a frenzy at the
thought of it, he resolved to renew the war on terms advantageous
entirely to himself. In that day Connecticut was free from rocks, but
Long Island was covered with them; so he gathered all he could lay his
hands on and tossed them at the Indians that he could see across the
Sound near Cold Spring until the supply had given out. The red men who
last inhabited Connecticut used to show white men where the missiles
landed and where the devil struck his heel into the ground as he sprang
from the shore in his haste to reach Long Island. At Cold Spring other
footprints and one of his toes are shown. Establishing himself at Coram,
he troubled the people of the country for many years, so that between the
devil on the west and the Montauks on the east they were plagued indeed;
for though their guard at Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and other places
often apprised them of the coming of the Montauks, they never knew which
way to look for the devil.


A great drought had fallen on Long Island, and the red men prayed for
water. It is true that they could get it at Lake Ronkonkoma, but some of
them were many miles from there, and, beside, they feared the spirits at
that place: the girl who plied its waters in a phosphor-shining birch,
seeking her recreant lover; and the powerful guardians that the Great
Spirit had put in charge to keep the fish from being caught, for these
fish were the souls of men, awaiting deliverance into another form. The
people gathered about their villages in bands and besought the Great
Spirit to give them drink. His voice was heard at last, bidding their
chief to shoot an arrow into the air and to watch where it fell, for
there would water gush out. The chief obeyed the deity, and as the arrow
touched the earth a spring of sweet water spouted into the air. Running
forward with glad cries the red men drank eagerly of the liquor, laved
their faces in it, and were made strong again; and in memory of that
event they called the place the Hill of God, or Manitou Hill, and Manet
or Manetta Hill it is to this day. Hereabouts the Indians settled and
lived in peace, thriving under the smile of their deity, making wampum
for the inland tribes and waxing rich with gains from it. They made the
canal from bay to sea at Canoe Place, that they might reach open water
without dragging their boats across the sand-bars, and in other ways they
proved themselves ingenious and strong.

When the English landed on the island they saw that the Indians were not
a people to be trifled with, and in order to properly impress them with
their superiority, they told them that John Bull desired a treaty with
them. The officers got them to sit in line in front of a cannon, the
nature of which instrument was unknown to them, and during the talk the
gun was fired, mowing down so many of the red people that the survivors
took to flight, leaving the English masters at the north shore, for this
heartless and needless massacre took place at Whale's Neck. So angry was
the Great Spirit at this act of cruelty and treachery that he caused
blood to ooze from the soil, as he had made water leap for his thirsting
children, and never again would grass grow on the spot where the murder
had been done.


There is a clay bank on Little Neck, Long Island, where metallic nodules
are now and then exposed by rain. Rustics declare them to be silver, and
account for their crumbling on the theory that the metal is under a
curse. A century ago the Montauks mined it, digging over enough soil to
unearth these pellets now and again, and exchanging them at the nearest
settlements for tobacco and rum. The seeming abundance of these lumps of
silver aroused the cupidity of one Gardiner, a dweller in the central
wilderness of the island, but none of the Indians would reveal the source
of their treasure. One day Gardiner succeeded in getting an old chief so
tipsy that, without realizing what he was doing, he led the white man to
the clay bed and showed him the metallic spots glittering in the sun.
With a cry of delight Gardiner sprang forward and tore at the earth with
his fingers, while the Indian stood by laughing at his eagerness.

Presently a shade crossed the white man's face, for he thought that this
vast treasure would have to be shared by others. It was too much to
endure. He wanted all. He would be the richest man on earth. Stealing
behind the Indian as he stood swaying and chuckling, he wrenched the
hatchet from his belt and clove his skull at a blow. Then, dragging the
body to a thicket and hiding it under stones and leaves, he hurried to
his house for cart and pick and shovel, and returning with speed he dug
out a half ton of the silver before sunset. The cart was loaded, and he
set homeward, trembling with excitement and conjuring bright visions for
his future, when a wailing sound from a thicket made him halt and turn
pale. Noiselessly a figure glided from the bush. It was the Indian he had
killed. The form approached the treasure, flung up its arm, uttered a few
guttural words; then a rising wind seemed to lift it from the ground and
it drifted toward the Sound, fading like a cloud as it receded.

Full of misgiving, Gardiner drove to his home, and, by light of a
lantern, transferred his treasure to his cellar. Was it the dulness of
the candle that made the metal look so black? After a night of feverish
tossing on his bed he arose and went to the cellar to gloat upon his
wealth. The light of dawn fell on a heap of gray dust, a few brassy
looking particles showing here and there. The curse of the ghost had been
of power and the silver was silver no more. Mineralogists say that the
nodules are iron pyrites. Perhaps so; but old residents know that they
used to be silver.


In the Bath district of Brooklyn stands Cortelyou manor, built one
hundred and fifty years ago, and a place of defence during the Revolution
when the British made sallies from their camp in Flatbush and worried the
neighborhood. It was in one of these forays on pigs and chickens that a
gallant officer of red-coats met a pretty lass in the fields of
Cortelyou. He stilled her alarm by aiding her to gather wild-flowers, and
it came about that the girl often went into the fields and came back with
prodigious bouquets of daisies. The elder Cortelyou had no inkling of
this adventure until one of his sons saw her tryst with the red-coat at a
distance. Be sure the whole family joined him in remonstrance. As the
girl declared that she would not forego the meetings with her lover, the
father swore that she should never leave his roof again, and he tried to
be as good, or bad, as his word. The damsel took her imprisonment as any
girl of spirit would, but was unable to effect her escape until one
evening, as she sat at her window, watching the moon go down and paint
the harbor with a path of light. A tap at the pane, as of a pebble thrown
against it, roused her from her revery. It was her lover on the lawn.

At her eager signal he ran forward with a light ladder, planted it
against the window-sill, and in less than a minute the twain were running
toward the beach; but the creak of the ladder had been heard, and
grasping their muskets two of the men hurried out. In the track of the
moon the pursuers descried a moving form, and, without waiting to
challenge, they levelled the guns and fired. A woman's cry followed the
report; then a dip of oars was heard that fast grew fainter until it
faded from hearing. On returning to the house they found the girl's room
empty, and next morning her slipper was brought in from the mud at the
landing. Nobody inside of the American lines ever learned what that shot
had done, but if it failed to take a life it robbed Cortelyou of his
mind. He spent the rest of his days in a single room, chained to a staple
in the floor, tramping around and around, muttering and gesturing, and
sometimes startling the passer-by as he showed his white face and ragged
beard at the window.


Allow us to introduce Nicholas Van Wempel, of Flatbush: fat, phlegmatic,
rich, and henpecked. He would like to be drunk because he is henpecked,
but the wife holds the purse-strings and only doles out money to him when
she wants groceries or he needs clothes. It was New Year's eve, the eve
of 1739, when Vrouw Van Wempel gave to her lord ten English shillings and
bade him hasten to Dr. Beck's for the fat goose that had been bespoken.
"And mind you do not stop at the tavern," she screamed after him in her
shrillest tone. But poor Nicholas! As he went waddling down the road,
snapping through an ice-crust at every step, a roguish wind--or perhaps
it was one of the bugaboos that were known to haunt the shores of
Gravesend Bay--snatched off his hat and rolled it into the very doorway
of the tavern that he had been warned, under terrible penalties, to

As he bent to pick it up the door fell ajar, and a pungency of schnapps
and tobacco went into his nostrils. His resolution, if he had one,
vanished. He ordered one glass of schnapps; friends came in and treated
him to another; he was bound to do as much for them; shilling by shilling
the goose money passed into the till of the landlord. Nicholas was heard
to make a muttered assertion that it was his own money anyhow, and that
while he lived he would be the head of his own house; then the mutterings
grew faint and merged into snores. When he awoke it was at the low sound
of voices in the next room, and drowsily turning his head he saw there
two strangers,--sailors, he thought, from their leather jackets, black
beards, and the rings in their ears. What was that they said? Gold? On
the marshes? At the old Flatlands tide-mill? The talkers had gone before
his slow and foggy brain could grasp it all, but when the idea had fairly
eaten its way into his intellect, he arose with the nearest approach to
alacrity that he had exhibited in years, and left the place. He crunched
back to his home, and seeing nobody astir went softly into his shed,
where he secured a shovel and lantern, and thence continued with all
consistent speed to the tumbledown tide-mill on the marsh,--a trying
journey for his fat legs on a sharp night, but hope and schnapps impelled

He reached the mill, and, hastening to the cellar, began to probe in the
soft, unfrozen earth. Presently his spade struck something, and he dug
and dug until he had uncovered the top of a canvas bag,--the sort that
sailors call a "round stern-chest." It took all his strength to lug it
out, and as he did so a seam burst, letting a shower of gold pieces over
the ground. He loosed the band of his breeches, and was filling the legs
thereof with coin, when a tread of feet sounded overhead and four men
came down the stair. Two of them he recognized as the fellows of the
tavern. They saw the bag, the lantern, then Nicholas. Laden though he was
with gold until he could hardly budge, these pirates, for such they were,
got him up-stairs, forced him to drink hot Hollands to the success of
their flag, then shot him through the window into the creek. As he was
about to make this unceremonious exit he clutched something to save
himself, and it proved to be a plucked goose that the pirates had stolen
from a neighboring farm and were going to sup on when they had scraped
their gold together. He felt the water and mud close over him; he
struggled desperately; he was conscious of breathing more freely and of
staggering off at a vigorous gait; then the power of all the schnapps
seemed to get into his head, and he remembered no more until he heard his
wife shrilling in his ears, when he sat up and found himself in a
snow-bank close to his house, with a featherless goose tight in his

Vrouw Van Wempel cared less about the state of her spouse when she saw
that he had secured the bird, and whenever he told his tale of the
pirates she turned a deaf ear to him, for if he had found the gold why
did he not manage to bring home a few pieces of it? He, in answer, asked
how, as he had none of his own money, she could have come by the goose?
He often told his tale to sympathetic ears, and would point to the old
mill to prove that it was true.


Before the opening of the great bridge sent commerce rattling up
Washington Street in Brooklyn that thoroughfare was a shaded and
beautiful avenue, and among the houses that attested its respectability
was one, between Tillary and Concord Streets, that was long declared to
be haunted. A man and his wife dwelt there who seemed to be fondly
attached to each other, and whose love should have been the stronger
because of their three children none grew to years. A mutual sorrow is as
close a tie as a common affection. One day, while on a visit to a friend,
the wife saw her husband drive by in a carriage with a showy woman beside
him. She went home at once, and when the supposed recreant returned she
met him with bitter reproaches. He answered never a word, but took his
hat and left the house, never to be seen again in the places that had
known him.

The wife watched and waited, daily looking for his return, but days
lengthened into weeks, months, years, and still he came not. Sometimes
she lamented that she had spoken hastily and harshly, thinking that, had
she known all, she might have found him blameless. There was no family to
look after, no wholesome occupation that she sought, so the days went by
in listening and watching, until, at last, her body and mind gave way,
and the familiar sight of her face, watching from a second floor window,
was seen no longer. Her last day came. She had risen from her bed; life
and mind seemed for a moment to be restored to her; and standing where
she had stood so often, her form supported by a half-closed shutter and a
grasp on the sash, she looked into the street once more, sighed
hopelessly, and so died. It was her shade that long watched at the
windows; it was her waxen face, heavy with fatigue and pain, that was
dimly seen looking over the balusters in the evening.


Before Brooklyn had spread itself beyond Greenwood Cemetery a stone could
be seen in Martense's Lane, south of that burial-ground, that bore a hoof
mark. A negro named Joost, in the service of the Van Der
Something-or-others, was plodding home on Saturday night, his fiddle
under his arm. He had been playing for a wedding in Flatbush and had been
drinking schnapps until he saw stars on the ground and fences in the sky;
in fact, the universe seemed so out of order that he seated himself
rather heavily on this rock to think about it. The behavior of the stars
in swimming and rolling struck him as especially curious, and he
conceived the notion that they wanted to dance. Putting his fiddle to his
chin, he began a wild jig, and though he made it up as he went along, he
was conscious of doing finely, when the boom of a bell sent a shiver down
his spine. It was twelve o'clock, and here he was playing a dance tune on
Sunday. However, the sin of playing for one second on the Sabbath was as
great as that of playing all day; so, as long as he was in for it, he
resolved to carry the tune to the end, and he fiddled away with a
reckless vehemence. Presently he became aware that the music was both
wilder and sweeter than before, and that there was more of it. Not until
then did he observe that a tall, thin stranger stood beside him; and that
he was fiddling too,--composing a second to Joost's air, as if he could
read his thought before he put it into execution on the strings. Joost
paused, and the stranger did likewise.

"Where de debble did you come frum?" asked the first. The other smiled.

"And how did you come to know dat music?" Joost pursued.

"Oh, I've known that tune for years," was the reply. "It's called 'The
Devil's joy at Sabbath Breaking.'"

"You're a liar!" cried the negro. The stranger bowed and burst into a
roar of laughter. "A liar!" repeated Joost,--"for I made up dat music dis
very minute."

"Yet you notice that I could follow when you played."

"Humph! Yes, you can follow."

"And I can lead, too. Do you know the tune 'Go to the Devil and Shake

"Yes; but I play second to nobody."

"Very well, I'll beat you at any air you try."

"Done!" said Joost. And then began a contest that lasted until daybreak.
The stranger was an expert, but Joost seemed to be inspired, and just as
the sun appeared he sounded, in broad and solemn harmonies, the hymn of
Von Catts:

"Now behold, at dawn of day, Pious Dutchmen sing and pray."

At that the stranger exclaimed, "Well, that beats the devil!" and
striking his foot angrily on the rock, disappeared in a flash of fire
like a burst bomb. Joost was hurled twenty feet by the explosion, and lay
on the ground insensible until a herdsman found him some hours later. As
he suffered no harm from the contest and became a better fiddler than
ever, it is supposed that the recording angel did not inscribe his feat
of Sabbath breaking against him in large letters. There were a few who
doubted his story, but they had nothing more to say when he showed them
the hoof-mark on the rock. Moreover, there are fewer fiddlers among the
negroes than there used to be, because they say that the violin is the
devil's instrument.


From Brooklyn Heights, or Ihpetonga, "highplace of trees," where the
Canarsie Indians made wampum or sewant, and where they contemplated the
Great Spirit in the setting of the sun across the meeting waters, to
Montauk Point, Long Island has been swept by the wars of red men, and
many are the tokens of their occupancy. A number of their graves were to
be seen until within fifty years, as clearly marked as when the warriors
were laid there in the hope of resurrection among the happy hunting
grounds that lay to the west and south. The casting of stones on the
death-spots or graves of some revered or beloved Indians was long
continued, and was undoubtedly for the purpose of raising monuments to
them, though at Monument Mountain, Massachusetts, Sacrifice Rock, between
Plymouth and Sandwich, Massachusetts, and some other places the cairns
merely mark a trail. Even the temporary resting-place of Sachem
Poggatacut, near Sag Harbor, was kept clear of weeds and leaves by
Indians who passed it in the two centuries that lapsed between the death
of the chief and the laying of the road across it in 1846. This spot is
not far from Whooping Boy's Hollow, so named because of a boy who was
killed by Indians, and because the rubbing of two trees there in a storm
gave forth a noise like crying. An older legend has it that this noise is
the angry voice of the magician who tried to slay Wyandank, the
"Washington of the Montauks," who is buried on the east end of the
island. Often he led his men into battle, sounding the warwhoop, copied
from the scream of the eagle, so loudly that those who heard it said that
the Montauks were crying for prey.

It was while killing an eagle on Block Island, that he might use the
plumes for his hair, that this chief disclosed himself to the hostiles
and brought on a fight in which every participant except himself was
slain. He was secretly followed back to Long Island by a magician who had
hopes of enlisting the evil ones of that region against him,--the giants
that left their tracks in "Blood-stone Rock" and "Printed Rock," near
Napeague, and such renegades as he who, having betrayed his people, was
swallowed by the earth, his last agony being marked by a stamp of the
foot that left its print on a slab near the Indian burial-ground at
Kongonok. Failing in these alliances the wizard hid among the hollows of
the moors, and there worked spells of such malice that the chief's hand
lost steadiness in the hunt and his voice was seldom heard in council.
When the haunt of this evil one was made known, a number of young men
undertook to trap him. They went to the hills by night, and moved
stealthily through the shrubbery until they were almost upon him; but his
familiars had warned him of their approach, though they had wakened him
only to betray him for a cloud swept in from the sea, fell about the
wretch, burst into flame, and rolled back toward the ocean, bearing him
in the centre of its burning folds. Because of the cry he uttered the
place long bore the name of Whooping Hollow, and it used to be said that
the magician visited the scene of his ill-doing every winter, when his
shrieks could be heard ringing over the hills.


Andover, New Jersey, was quaint and quiet in the days before the
Revolution--it is not a roaring metropolis, even yet--and as it offered
few social advantages there was more gathering in taprooms and more
drinking of flip than there should have been. Among those who were not
averse to a cheering cup were three boon companions, Bailey, Hill, and
Evans, farmers of the neighborhood. They loved the tavern better than the
church, and in truth the church folk did not love them well, for they
were suspected of entertaining heresies of the most forbidden character.
It was while they were discussing matters of belief over their glasses
that one of them proposed, in a spirit of bravado, that whichever of the
trio might be first to die should come back from the grave and reveal
himself to the others--if he could--thus settling the question as to
whether there was a future.

Not long after this agreement--for consent was unanimous--Hill departed
this life. His friends lamented his absence, especially at the tavern,
but they anticipated no attempt on his part to express the distinguished
consideration that he had felt for his old chums. Some weeks passed, yet
there was no sign, and the two survivors of the party, as they jogged
homeward to the house where both lived, had begun to think and speak less
frequently of the absent one. But one night the household was alarmed by
a terrible cry. Bailey got a light and hurried to the bedside of his
friend, whom he found deathly white and holding his chest as if in pain.
"He has been here!" gasped Evans. "He stood here just now."

"Who?" asked Bailey, a creep passing down his spine.

"Hill! He stood there, where you are now, and touched me with a hand that
was so cold--cold--" and Evans shivered violently. On turning back the
collar of his shirt the impression of a hand appeared on the flesh near
the shoulder: a hand in white, with one finger missing. Hill had lost a
finger. There was less of taverns after that night, for Evans carried the
token of that ghostly visit on his person until he, too, had gone to
solve the great secret.


In 1770 the brig Hand-in-Hand went ashore at Good Luck, New Jersey. Among
the passengers on board the vessel, that it would perhaps be wrong to
call ill fated, was John Murray, founder of Universalism in America. He
had left England in despair, for his wife and children were dead, and so
broken was he in his power of thought and purpose that he felt as if he
should never preach again.

In fact, his rescue from the wreck was passive, on his part, and he
suffered himself to be carried ashore, recking little whether he reached
it or no. After he had been for half an hour or so on the soil of the new
country, to which he had made his entrance in so unexpected a manner, he
began to feel hungry, and set off afoot along the desolate beach. He came
to a cabin where an old man stood in a doorway with a basket of fish
beside him. "Will you sell me a fish?" asked Murray.

"No. The fish is all yours. I expected you."

"You do not know me."

"You are the man who is to tell us of God."

"I will never preach of Him again."

"I built that log church yonder. Don't say that you will not preach in
it. Whenever a clergyman, Presbyterian, Methody, or Baptist, came here, I
asked him to preach in my kitchen. I tried to get him to stay; but no--he
always had work elsewhere. Last night I saw the brig driven on the bar,
and a voice said to me, 'In that ship is the man who will teach of God.
Not the old God of terrors, but one of love and mercy. He has come
through great sorrow to do this work.' I have made ready for you. Do not
go away."

The minister felt a strange lifting in his heart. He fell on his knees
before the little house and offered up a prayer. Long he staid in that
place, preaching gentle doctrines and ministering to the men and women of
that lonely village, and when the fisherman apostle, Thomas Potter, died
he left the church to Murray, who, in turn, bequeathed it, "free, for the
use of all Christian people."

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