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lived hard by, declared that he saw her harnessing a rampant broomstick, and about to ride to the meeting ; though others presume it was merely flourished in the course of one of her curtain lectures, to give energy and emphasis to a period. Certain it is, that Wolfert Acker nailed a horse-shoe to the front door, during one of her nocturnal ex. cursions, to prevent her return; but, as she re-entered the house without any difficulty, it is probable she was not so much of a witch as she was represented.
After the time of Wolfert Acker, a long interval elapses, about which but little is known. It is hoped, however, that the antiquarian researches so diligently making in every part of this new country, may yet throw some light upon what may be iermed the Dark Ages of the Roost.
The next period at which we find this venerable and eventful pile rising to importance, and resuming its old belligerent character, is during the revolutionary war. It was at that time owned by Jacob Van Tassel, or Van Texel, as the name was originally spelled, after the place in Holland, which gave birth to this heroic line. He was strong-built, long-limbed, and as stout in soul as in body; a fit successor to the warrior sachem of yore, and, like him, delighting in ex. travagant enterprises, and hardy deeds of arms.
Before I enter upon the exploits of this worthy cock of the Roost, however, it is fitting I should throw some light upon the state of the mansion, and of the sur. rounding country, at the time. In your succeeding Miscellany this
may be done.
HISTORICAL NOTE.— The annexed extracts from the early colonial records, relate to the irruption of witchcraft into Westchester county, as mentioned in the chronicle :
“July 7, 1670.-Katharine Harryson accused of witchcraft on complaint of Thomas Hunt and Edward Waters, in behalf of the town, who pray that she may be driven from the town of Westchester. The woman appears before the council.
She was a native of England, and had lived a year in Weathersfield, Connecticut, where she had been tried for witchcrast, found guilly by the jury, acquitted by the bench, and released out of prison, upon condition she would
Affair adjourned. “August 24.-Affair taken up again, when, being heard at large, it was referred to the general court of assize. "Woman ordered to give security for good behaviour, &c.”
In another place is the following entry :
“ Order given for Katharine Harryson, charged with witchcraft, to leave Westchester, as the inhabitants are uneasy at her residing there, and she is ordered to
THE SAMPHIRE GATHERER'S STORY.
BY ARTHUR HUME PLUNKETT.
" It was here, sir, that Mr. Clements descended.”
" How fearful !" I exclaimed, scarcely venturing to look down a precipice at least six hundred feet in depth.
To repeat in a few words what had occupied nearly an hour, and omitting his numerous digressions, the samphire gatherer's tale ran thus :
At the close of the last century he and his father, samphire gather. ers by trade, had assisted in lowering one Mr. Clements down the cliff under rather extraordinary circumstances. Mr. Clements was returning home along the downs, from the then retired, but now fashionable town of —, when he recognised a boat about a mile from the shore, strongly resembling one in which his wife and sister were in the fre. quent habit of passing hours, in a little bay or inlet of the sea near his house. He hastened home only to have all doubts removed as to their . identity; and, hurrying back to the spot where he had first observed them, found, to his extreme terror, that the boat had been deserted by its occupants, who had been seen wandering on the rocks under the cliff. To approach them by the sea on either side in time to rescue them from their impending danger was impossible. The tide was rising fast, and their destruction appeared to be inevitable. In this emergency the samphire gatherers were thought of, and sought for; and. declining all their offers, Clements insisted upon descending the cliff, in the hope of placing his wife upon some rock or spot where she might remain in safety till the arrival of the boats from Thus far had the samphire gatherer got in his story which he was relating to me as I was strolling along the cliffs, when he paused, as I have already mentioned, and pointed to the spot where Mr. Clements descended.
Following his example, and taking a seat on the grass near him, the old man continued his tale. I give it in his own words.
“ Well, sir ; when we found we could not persuade him to let one of us go down in his place, father, as usual, secured a crow-bur into the earth, a few feet from the edge of the cliff; and then twiving the rope once round it, in order to give us the steadier hold on Mr. Clements, fastened it under his arms. We then made him change his coat for one of our frocks, such as you see the common people wear in these parts ; and taught him how to put his feet sleadily against the side of the cliff—as it were thus ; and made him take the rope between his hands just above the knot, and told him to lean out from the rock as far as he could, and to work downwards with his feet and look up, and keep a watch out for the stones and rubbish which the rope might dislodge. We told him all this, sir; and bade him not be frightened at the birds, as they would not harm him ;-the sun had set, sir; and they always make a horrid screeching if you go down the cliff after they are gone to roost ;-and, that if he altered his mind, and wished to come back, he had only to give the rope a couple of pulls, and that we'd haul him up directly. No-no,' says Mr. Clements, there's no necessity for that.' When I get to the bottom, wait for a quarter of an hour ; if at the end of that time I give no signal for you to pull me up, you will VOL. IV.
know that the ladies are safe, and then make what haste you can, and get a boat from
• I am ready now,' says he, in a faint voice, and his teeth all the while chattering with fear. Never was a man so fright:ned as he was at that moment. Well, sir, father and I once nore lifted the rope, and Mr. Clements leaned back over the edge of the cliff. Down he went. Wo soon lost sight of him.
“Working with his feet, as father had told him, we slowly supplying out rope as he required it, he moved safely down for a bit ; then he rest. ed on a jurting rock. All this time he kept his eyes fixed on the sky. Pressing cautiously with his feet against the chalk; his body almost at right-angles with the cliff'; his hands grasping ibe rope, or sheltering his face from the shower of stones and dirt which it disludged. He had got about a hundred feet from the top, when, suddenly slipping from the cliff, bis chest and face were Aung violently against it. He endea voured to regain his fouting against the rocks, and in so doing broke through a resolution which he had formed. and looked beneath him. It is a rare sight that for the first time. Well do I remember how my head swam as I looked at the water far, far below ; and the waves that one could see, but not hear, as they broke over the shingles. Pre. sence of mind, on which Mr. Clements so vaunted himself, where was it then? He was about to pull the rope ; but he thought of his poor wifc, and one thought of her was enough. On he went. To regain a footing was impossible. Father and I kept gradually lowering the rope ; and with his face to the cliff; his hands outstretched, catching at each object as he passed; enveloped in a shower of chalk and stunes, which he had not the strength to avoid ; gasping and panting for b.eaih, poor Mr. Clements slided down for about another hundred feet. Here the cliff arrhed inwards, forming an immense hollow, like yonder rock, sir; and, swir'ging to and fro, and rourd and round, as it were betwist hea. ven and earili, down he went. At one moreni the wide ocean met his dizzy gaze; at another, flocks of the startled birds few around his head, uttering their shrill and angry cries. Again, sir, he found him. self sliding down against the side of the cliff, his fish all sore and torn, and his body and arms in absolute torture from the pressure of the rope. Again in agony he made a frantic effort to regain a fuoting ; but, in so doing, fastened one of his legs in a narrow lissure, or opening in the lock. Vain was the struggle 10 releo se it, sir ; Mr. Clements was either too weak and faint, or the limb too firmly secured in the rock. All his efforts were useless; and I shudder at the bure recollection wh le I tell it, we continued 10 supply the rope! Hanging by his leg, head do inwards, th re he lay; the cormorants and sea-mews flitting around him, and joining in his frightful sbrieks.''
Norrible ! was he long thus ?" “ Not long, sir. Father suon discovered that there was no weight or pull upon the rope ; and, judying from his experience of what had occurred, we raised it a few feet, and released Mr. Clements from his ; ainful situation. From this moment, he told me, he was uncon. civus as to whether he was ascending or descending, until he heard his name called in a faint voice. He opened his eyes. We had lowered hiin over the arch of an immense cavern, within which all was darkness. The sea was rolling in benraih him; his feet touched it; he felt that he must cither swim or drown; he feebly grasped the rope ; a thriil of joy ran through his veins as he found an unex. pected footing on a rock concealed by the waves in about three feet
water ; the depth around for the present mattered not. He remained for a few moments motionless on the rock. His name was again called ; it sounded from within the cave.
Extricating hinself from the rope, he made an effort to swim ; found that he had more strength than he had thought,-swam for. ward through the darkness up the cavern; struggled-sank-rose again-heard his name called louder and nearer,-made one effort more-felt the sand, the smooth sand, under his feet,-staggered forward, reelcd, and fell, exhausted, into the arms of his wife.”
And his sister ?" “ The ladies were both there, sir. The cavern was about fifty feet in depth, sloping upwards towards the back, and partly filled with weeds, stones, and sand. Here Mrs. Clements and her sister had been driven to take refuge by the rising tide. They had landed from the boat on the rocks, at some distance below the cave, in the hope of finding a pathway or outlet, by which they could escape up the cliff. After a long and hopeless search, they bethought them of the boat ; and, to their extreme terror, found that it had been carried away by the rising tide, which now partly covered the rocks. They had just time to climb into the cavern over the fallen rocks under the arch, when the waters sweeping in, closed up all entrance to any but a swiminer. Although the tide was fast rising, the ladies cheered each other with the hope that they should escape. Fortunately the darkness at the back of the cavern was sufficient to prevent their discovering the height to which the water usually rose.
" As you might imagine, Mr. Clements was some time before he re. covered his senses. His wife was kneeling beside him, chafing his brows, when her sister, starting up, called their attention to the rope by which he had descended. We were pulling it up; and he shook his hcad as it disappeared over the arch of the cavern. Well he knew how useless it would have been for them to use it. It matters not,' he said ; they (ineaning us) have gone to We shall have boats here soon; we are safe-quite safe,' and so on, endeavouring to keep their spirits up, while he well knew that in the darkness the chances were that the boat would never find the cave.
“ Two hours, sir,-iwo long hours passed on in this way, and Mr. Clements had given up all hope. The water kept rising and rising, till at last the waves broke at their feet, and each instant threatened their destruction. The ladies were almost dead with fear and cold, when a large heavy, Dutch.built boat-you don't see such now, sir,-swept, with scarcely a sound, under the arch into the cavern, her prow coming in close upon the spot where Mr. Clements and the ladies were. They did not hear her until she was within the cave; and no wonder, for the oars were muffled, and those who were in her were as silent as the grave. It was part of the cargo of a French smuggler, lying a few miles off, that her crew, assisted by some of the fishermen, were about to land, and they had taken shel. ter in the cavern, having been alarmed at the approach of a boat up the coast. Fortunate was it that Mr. Clements prevented the ladies from calling out for assistance from them"
Why I should have thought at such a moment that even smug. “ Not they, sir,—not they ; and Mr. Clements knew it. Desperate men like them would have left the poor things to drown, or have murdered them. No; Mr. Clements knew better. He tried a last
and a dangerous chance; but it was his only one. Listen, sir : while the men had their heads turned to the opening of the cavern, watching the boat pass, the sight of which had driven them into it, he lifted the ladies gently into the end of the boat. They couldn't hear him for the noise of the waves; there was plenty of room for them, and he drew a sail over them, and was just stepping in himself after them, when one of the men turned, and he had only time to conceal himself under the bows of the boat before she was again moving silently out of the cave with, as her crew little suspected, the addition of two to their number since she had entered it.
“ They went about a quarter of a mile down under the cliff, and landed a boy, who disappeared like a cat up the rocks. A dead silence ensued; no one ventured to speak; the men rested on their oars, and the boat gently rose and sank on the waves. At last the silence was broken ; something dark was hurled down the cliff at a short distance from the boat. It fell heavily on the rocks. “God forgive him, he's tossed him over,' muttered one of the men. it was, sir. The poor man on the look-out was asleep near the top of the cliff; and we often hear of these men rolling over in their sleep. There's always a reason for it, sir. They were going to land their cargo, when they heard a gun in the offing from one of the King's cutters. The alarm had been given. Not a moment was to be lost ; and, straining every nerve, they bore out to sea.
They were about two miles from the shore, when some of the men declared it was a lost job, and that they could go no further. Mrs. Clements was quite senseless with cold and exhaustion, but her sister listened eagerly to what the men said. They had some angry words, but the meaning of their conversation she could not understand. There was a little boat astern of the larger one, which they drew to it, and entered one by one, the last man calling out as he stepped in— Now then, boys, pull for your lives; they'll make after us when they find they've lost their prize.'
“The boat had disappeared in the surrounding darkness before the terrified lady comprehended all; and then, sir, in a moment the frightful truth flashed upon her. The devils had scuttled the boat, and it was sinking fast. She said one prayer, and turned to kiss her sleeping sister, when Mr. Clements' voice sounded almost at her side ! There he was, sir,—there he was in the self-same little pleasure-boat which had been the cause of all their misfortunes. He had just time to list the ladies out of the boat, and to get clear of her, when she went down. The revenue.cutter came up, and took them on board all alive ; but many months passed before Mrs. Clements recovered the events of that dreadful night.'
“What became of Mr. Clements when they left him in the cave ?"
"He held on to the boat for a few minutes till they got outside, and then swam to the rocks, where he found his little pleasure-boat, and entering it, followed in the track of the larger vessel in time to save the life of Mrs. Clements and that of her sister. The sun is set. ting, sir," said the samphire gatherer, touching his hat to me. “I must be going homewards. Mayhap,” he added, as he turned away on his path, one of these days, when you are strolling on the rocks below, sir, you will look at the cavern where Mr. Clements found his wife. You can imagine much better than I can describe what must have been their feelings in such a place, and at such a time. Good evening, sir."