« AnteriorContinuar »
ridiculous way; but he never came up again, and so the pickerel ate him, and the boat was condemned as unseaworthy by all our mothers, and she rotted at her wharf, and all our robur et ces triplex circa pectus' was of no avail; and with this catastrophe all boating fell into sad disrepute, and the lake grew more and more dangerous every day.
Yonder too you see, not far from the ruined pier, stretches out a waterfence, as it is called, being a wall dividing two fields running down upon the sand, and extended beyond the shore over the deeper water by long and heavy poles, projected out so far that cattle cannot ford around it. At sight of it now, the time of a rare exploit recurs to me as yesterday. I was strolling down by this shore one afternoon in September. I had my father's 'training' musket for a fowling-piece, and was in pursuit of robins and squirrels. That old musket ! — how I used to coax it, oil the lock, cleanse the barrel, pick the fint! To how many a luckless robin and scoundrel clape and squirrel it has done bloody murder! Well, I had come to this water-fence, which was then thickly studded on either side with a hedge-row of hazel-nut bushes and grape vines, and was peering in the bushes to see if any grapes were still left, when I heard a tremendous clanging and fluttering noise, 'like the rushing of a mighty wind,' immediately over my head. I looked up and saw a small flock, consisting of some half dozen, of wild geese. They are rare visitants of the lake, and I had heard only dim traditions of captures there. Now, thought I, for a triumphal feat of arms, to put all the sportsmen of the neighborhood to the blush. I crept softly along the fence, and saw the snowy troop alight in the water close to the shore, within some forty yards of the place where I stood concealed. My gun was very apt to 'hang fire,' and my nerves were quite in a flutter at the vastness of the enterprise before me. Now a distressing reflection occurred to me: my gun was loaded with mustard-seed shot! What should I do? There plashed and screamed the finest game I had ever seen or known of in my life; here was I within easy gun-shot. The birds would soon fly. A thought struck me. I drew from my pocket my pen-knife, opened a blade at either end, and dropped it into the muzzle of my gun, raised the old musket cautiously, rested it upon the fence, and getting the best sight'I could among the twigs and leaves, pulled trigger. Bang! went the gun with a terrible explosion. It was the first time it had been used for some months, and I had probably overcharged it with powder, for it kicked backward in a most graceful manner, and completely carried me off my feet, rolling upon the ground. The birds all flew as if their greatest enemy was at band, leaving the water a little discolored with blood, and covered with feathers enough for a bolster. What execution my pen-knife did I never knew; but I counted with some complacency on the blood and feathers, as evidence of what I might have done with a good rifle. Away went the birds screaming through the air, helter-skelter at first, but soon forming their battalion, one ahead and two rows behind, in shape not unlike the letter V, as composedly as if nothing had happened. Even now I look about me, to see if I am quite alone, and my ears tingle with shame.
Do you see yonder dark speck in the water, at the southern end of the lake, that looks so “very like a whale ?' Hill Rock ! — what a treasure wast thou! A sail to that distant island was like a voyage to Polynesia. It brought up all the vivid visions of the voyages of Sinbad. You see it is but a single rock, some few yards in circumference, and the rocks descend from this peak under water, by a rather precipitous slope, into the deepest part of the lake. What rare sport to paddle out in our crazy craft to that .barren island !! It was more than half a day's sail from our southern shore. There was the spot for fishing! Pickerel and clouders prowled stealthily about there, and longed for the hook. It was a grand event to go over there and fish. We were never trusted thus far alone. Sometimes our uncle Dan (who was a great sportsman, and knew every thing, and with whom we were sure to be safe) would go with us. Then, too, it was such exquisite fine fun,' as Harry Daring says, to see him, sheltered behind a bush in the end of the scow, shoot hell-divers; a small black duck, that frequent this sequestered shore. And then the fishing with buoys : hooks and lines attached to small branches of a tree, and left to float at random on the water. Hill Rock! bless thy flinty heart!
Look now from this rock to the west, and you will see that the lake is nearly twice the size you thought when you looked from where I am on this eastern side-hill. You may now perceive that this is too broad an expanse of water, and pushes too far in to the land there at ‘SAG HARBOR’on the west, to be deemed a mere cove. There too you may see the shore is gentle and easy for a little space, although the hills mount up quickly behind. What a sweet serenity is breathed over the whole landscape. Not a human habitation visible, except a little cottage there in the edge of the forest, where my grandfather's man, Jim Hopps, lived for more than a quarter of a century. His successor has laid his Vandal hands upon the native shrubbery that skirted this part of the shore. Heaven pardon me for hating the villain! See, he has robbed ‘High Point' of those dear old trees and bushes, where we lay in early days and rested from our toilsome pleasures, and lazily watched the mock-tides of this mimic sea.
Imagine we are sitting upon the top of that projecting promontory, 'High Point.' It rises perpendicularly from the water some sixty feet, and is at the point where the western shore breaks from its line, and runs into the west, forming the harbor. Standing upon the top of the “THOMPSON Lot,' that rises so high at the back of BETTY's Rocks, you might see the whole of the lake spread out at your feet; and its shape, like that of every other thing indescribabl — if shape it may be called which shape has none'-— its shape then (shade of Italy !) is like that of a man's boot. The leg runs up to the southern shore, and the top is ‘bounded' by those pretty meadows. The eastern shore runs nearly straight— with a slight bow for the calf of the leg there among the hemlocks — down to CromWELL's Cove,' where it turns westerly, and the heel runs into the land. Curving up slightly, to fit the hollow of the foot, the shore now pushes westerly, and passing beyond · Hill Rock'down into ‘Sag HARBOR,' where the toe is planted, turns again and bends up to ‘High Point,' where the instep is fixed, when again it hinges nearly at right angles, shooting along almost in a straight line; and passing ‘BETTY's Rocks' up to the meadows again on the north, it strikes the top whence we set out in the circumambulation. From ‘High Point' we can look, as you discover, diagonally across to the south-eastern shore, where those willows wave over the sandy
beach of “CROMWELL’s Cove;' and we can see easterly, opposite to us, the "Hemlock SHORE;' and northerly, the “WOODFIELD MEADOWS;' and southerly, over 'Hill Rock’ to the rocky shore beyond ; and westerly, into 'Sag HARBOR' again on the right.
Heigho! what a ramble we have had; and here I lie at rest nigh noon of this hot August day, underneath the cooling shadows of this clump of heavy-foliaged hickories! I was quite a boy when there was great talk of conveying the water of this lake to New-York City. How it would be done we boys did wonder! In barrels, or carts, or by engines? One boy I recollect, who was studying Conversations on Chemistry,' suggested syphons. But we had no faith in ‘Emily' and 'Caroline' or · Mrs. B.,' on a subject of this magnitude. What a pity to take the water away! What would the pickerel, and clouders, and perch, and turtles, and catfish, and silversides, and killies, and frogs, and eels, all do without the water ? What would become of the pond-lilies, and what would become of our scow and log-boat? At length, one sultry afternoon in August, a party of four very stout and very rosy-looking gentlemen came up from the city in a barouche, and drove down through the · WOODFIELD MEADOWS' to the shore of the lake. The summer had been very dry, and the water was very low; you might almost walk to the edge of the bank where the sandy beach ceases, and, the mud beginning, the bottom pitches precipitously down many a fathom deep. The pond-lilies were half out of water, and panting with heat, looked very dishevelled and dowdyish. Thousands of young tad-poles lay in the shoal water, just on the bottom, sunning themselves. Not a breath of air was stirring; it was the hottest day in the year. One of the gentlemen alighted from the barouche, and going down to the water's edge, suddenly started back, as the water seemed alive and receding from him ; it was black with myriads of tadpoles, who, frightened from their propriety, rushed like mad into the deeper water. The gentleman stooped down, and scooped up a little water with his hand close by the edge of the lake, where it was of more than blood-heat, and where the tad-poles had been startled from their bath into a premature toilet. He held the water up to his face, and tasting and smelling of it, put it from him as if he had touched pitch and been defiled. He rapidly and vigorously applied a snowy cambric handkerchief to the parts affected and infected, and having hastily gotten into the barouche, the party went back to town. What report these learned chemists or astrologers, whichever they were, made, or whether they furnished the Corporation with a chemical analysis of the water, I know not. Enough for us, the water was there yet; it was not carried to New-York; and so the fish and the pond lilies, and our scow and logboat, got safely out of that scrape.
And here am I still this sultry summer's afternoon lying on this sweet hill-side, under the shadow of these wide-spreading hickories, and these memories of times and places pass and repass before my vision like the creatures of a dream. The phantoms I summon mingle and fade away, like the kaleidoscopic changes of the mirage. Pain and pleasure mingle, mingle. I gather up my hat and cane, that hare rolled away on the grass, and make my way, musing and thoughtful, toward my parental home. Who would not have been a boy? Who would be a boy again? Woodfield, Westchester County, (N. Y.,) A.D. 1851.
"GR A V E' STAN ZA S.
Oh! bury me at eve!
Not then! — not then!
Oh! bury me at eve!
Oh no!-- not then !
Silent and low !
Then shall you think of me,
And fade no more!
Oh! bury me at eve!
A tired child may!
From the far shore.
Where I would dwell!
STAN ZA .
The bee ne'er tires of murmuring bis love
For the sweet flowers in which he hides all day :
He sings his life away.
The gentle flowers, until they droop and die,
Turn lovingly their faces to the sun,
With frolic laughter run.
So must I sing to thee, and turn to thee,
Fairest ! in whom alone my soul finds joy:
And sweets that cannot cloy.
R. S. CHILTON.
Sketch-Book of Mr, Mrister Karl.
CHAPTER THE ELEVENTE.
IN WOII TIE MEISTER TOUCHES UPON REMINISCENCES OF THE OLDIN TIM.
O DEAR is a tale of the olden time,
WATSON'S ANNALE: MOTTO.
Talking of good fellows, reader, some people call Lola Montez one. She always was a trump, they say — the veritable Queen of Hearts. I said so once, more than four hundred years ago. It was at the great Council of Constance, where she then shone a bright particular star, known to the world as the Fair IMPERIA. I was myself, at that time, confidential secretary to His Excellency Bishop Matteis, a worthy man and great scholar.
Now one day, while awaiting in that lady's ante-chamber the opportunity to speak a few words with a certain cardinal, whom I erroneously supposed at the time to be in confab with her, and being weary of delay, I began to sing, in baritono profundo, a song of my own composition, which had recently become immensely popular among the lords spiritual and temporal, the bishops, archbishops, cardinals, priests and laymen, in attendance on the council; and the words were:
CONSTANCE lies on the Boden Boden See,