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ned that by securing the garrison, he should for a long time prevent the history of its fate from reaching the ears of the gallant Stuyvesant; but his exploit was blown to the world when he least expected it, and by one of the last beings he would ever have suspected of enlisting as trumpeter to the wide-mouthed deity.
This was one Dirk Schuiler (or Skulker), a kind of hanger-on to the garrison, who seemed to belong to nobody, and in a manner to be self-outlawed. He was one of those vagabond cosmopolites, who shark about the world as if they had no right or business in it; and who infest the skirts of society, like poachers and interlopers. Every garrison and country village has one or more scape-goats of this kind, whose life is a kind of enigma, whose existence is without motive, who comes from the Lord knows where, who lives the Lord knows how, and seems to be made for no other earthly pupose but to keep up the ancient and honourable order of idleness. This vagabond philosopher was supposed to have some Indian blood in his veins, which was manifested by a certain Indian complexionand cast of countenance; but more especially by his propensities and habits. He was a tall, lank fellow, swift of foot, and longwinded. He was generally equipped in a half Indian dress, with belt, leggings, and moccasons. His hair hung in straight gallows-locks about his ears, and added not a little to his sharking de
It is an old remark, that persons of Indian mixture are half civilized, half savage, and half devil; a third half being expressly provided
for their particular convenience. It is for similar reasons, and probably with equal truth, that the back-wood men of Kentucky are styled half man, half horse, and half alligator, by the settlers on the Mississippi, and held accordingly in great respect and abhorrence.
The above character may have presented itself to the garrison as applicable to Dirk Schuiler, whom they familiarly dubbed Gallows Dirk. Certain it is, he acknowledged allegiance to no one-was an utter enemy to work, holding it in no manner of estimation—but lounged about the fort, depending upon chance for a subsistence, getting drunk whenever he could get liquor, and stealing whatever he could lay his hands on. Every day or two he was sure to get a sound ribroasting for some of his misdemeanours, which, however, as it broke no bones, he made very light of, and scrupled not to repeat the offence whenever another opportunity presented. Sometimes, in consequence of some flagrant villainy, he would abscond from the garrison, and be absent for a month at a time; skulking about the woods and swamps, with a long fowling-piece on his shoulder, lying in ambush for game, or squatting himself down on the edge of a pond catching fish for hours together, and bearing no little resemblance to that notable bird ycleped the Mud-pole. When he thought his crimes had been forgotten or forgiven, he would sneak back to the fort with a bundle of skins, or a bunch of poultry, which perchance he had stolen, and would exchange them for liquor, with which, having well soaked his carcase, he would lie in the sun and enjoy all the luxurious indolence of that swinish philosopher Diogenes. He was the terror of all the farm-yards in the country, into which he made fearful inroads; and sometimes he would make his sudden appearance at the garrison at daybreak, with the whole neighbourhood at his heels, like a scoundrel thief of a fox, detected in his maraudings, and hunted to his hole. Such was this Dirk Schuiler; and from the total indifference he showed to this world or its concerns, and from his truly Indian stoicism and taciturnity, no one would ever have dreamed that he would have been the publisher of the treachery of Risingh.
When the carousal was going on, which proved so fatal to the brave Von Poffenburgh and his watchful garrison, Dirk skulked about from room to room, being a kind of privileged vagrant or useless hound, whom nobody noticed. But though a fellow of few words, yet, like your taciturn people, his eyes and ears were always open, and in the course of his prowlings he overheard the whole plot of the Swedes. Dirk immediately settled in his own mind how he should turn the matter to his own advantage. He played the perfect jack-of-both-sides; that is to say, he made à prize of every thing that came in his reach, robbed both parties, stuck the copper-bound cocked hat of the puissant Von Poffenburgh on his head, whipped a huge pair of Risingh's jackboots under his arm, and took to his heels just before the catastrophe and confusion at the garrison.
Finding himself completely dislodged from his haunt in this
quarter, he directed his flight towards his native place, New Amsterdam, from whence he had formerly been obliged to abscond precipitately, in consequence of misfortune in business, that is to say, having been detected in the act of sheep-stealing. After wandering many days in the woods, toiling through swamps, fording brooks, swimming various rivers, and encountering a world of hardships that would have killed any other being but an Indian, a back-wood man, or the devil, he at length arrived half-famished, and lank as a starved weasel, at Communipaw, where he stole a canoe, and paddled over to New Amsterdam. Immediately on landing, he repaired to Governor Stuyvesant, and in more words than he had ever spoken before in the whole course of his life, gave an account of the disastrous affair.
On receiving these direful tidings, the valiant Peter started from his seat, as did the stout King Arthur when, at “merry Čarleile,” the news was brought him of the uncourteous misdeeds of the "grim barone"-without uttering a word, he dashed the pipe he was smoking against the back of the chimney, thrust a prodigious quid of negroheaded tobacco into his left cheek, pulled up his galligaskins, and strode up and down the room, humming, as was customary with him when in a passion, a hideous, north-west ditty. But, as I have before shown, he was not a man to vent his spleen in idle vapouring. His first measure, after the paroxysm of wrath had subsided, was to stump up stairs to a huge wooden chest, which served as his armoury, from whence he drew forth that identical suit of regimentals described in the preceding chapter. In these portentous habiliments he arrayed himself, like Achilles in the armour of Vulcan, maintaining all the while a most appalling silence, knitting his brows, and drawing his breath through his clenched teeth. Being hastily equipped, he strode down into the parlour, jerked down his trusty sword from over the fire-place, where it was usually suspended; but before he girded it on his thigh he drew it from its scabbard, and as his eye coursed along the rusty blade, a grim smile stole over his iron visage. It was the first smile that had visited his countenance for five long weeks; but every one who beheld it prophesied that there would soon be warm work in the province !
Thus armed at all points, with grisly war depicted in each feature, his very cocked hat assuming an air of uncommon defiance, he instantly put himself on the alert, and despatched Anthony Van Corlear hither and thither, this way and that way, through all the muddy streets and crooked lanes of the city, summoning by sound of trumpet his trusty peers to assemble in instant council. This done, by way of expediting matters, according to the custom of people in a hurry, he kept in continual bustle, shifting from chair to chair, popping his head out of every window, and stumping up and down stairs with his wooden leg in such brisk and incessant motion, that, as we are informed by an authentic historian of the