Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and drinking patriotic toasts, none of which but was as long as a Welsh pedigree, or a plea in Chancery.

No sooner did things come to this pass than the crafty Risingh and his Swedes, who had cunningly kept themselves sober, rose on their entertainers, tied them neck and heels, and took formal possession of the fort, and all its dependencies, in the name of Queen Christina of Sweden; administering, at the same time, an oath of allegiance to all the Dutch soldiers who could be made sober enough to swallow it. Risingh then put the fortifications in order, appointed his discreet and vigilant friend Suen Scutz, a tall, wind-dried, water-drinking, Swede, to the command; and departed, bearing with him this truly amiable garrison and their puissant commander, who, when brought to himself by a sound drubbing, bore no small resemblance to a “deboshed fish,' or bloated sea monster, caught upon dry land.

The transportation of the garrison was done to prevent the transmission of intelligence to New Amsterdam; for much as the cunning Risingh exulted in his stratagem, he dreaded the vengeance of the sturdy Peter Stuyvesant, whose name spread as much terror in the neighbourhood as did whilome that of the unconquerable Scander. beg among his scurvy enemies the Turks.

KNICKERBOCKER.

DIRK SCHUILER AND THE VALIANT

PETER. WHOEVER first described common fame, or rumour, as belonging to the sager sex, was a very owl from shrewdness. She has in truth certain femi. nine qualities to an astonishing degree; particularly that benevolent anxiety to take care of the affairs of others, which keeps her continually hunting after secrets, and gadding about proclaiming them. Whatever is done openly, and in the face of the world, she takes but transient notice of; but whenever a transaction is done in a corner, and attempted to be shrouded in mystery, then her goddess-ship is at her wit's end to find it out, and takes a most mischievous and lady-like pleasure in publishing it to the world. It is this truly feminine propensity that induces her con. tinually to be prying into cabinets of princes, listening at the key-holes of senate chambers, and peering through chinks and crannies, when our worthy congress are sitting with closed doors, deliberating between a dozen excellent modes of ruining the nation. It is this which makes us so obnoxious to all wary statesmen and intriguing commanders—such a stumbling-block to private negotiations, and secret expeditions, she often betrays by means and instruments which never would have been thought of by any but a female head.

Thus it was in the case of the affair of Fort Casimir. No doubt the cunning Risingh imagi

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

meanour.

B

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.

« AnteriorContinuar »