« PreviousContinue »
with earnest interest, and even turned and followed them at a wary distance to observe their movements. When they came to the bridge still stranger scenes were witnessed. They halted and looked suspiciously around them, as if afraid of being discovered; but the gathering shades of the night, aided by his diminutive stature and sheeps'- gray doublet, effectually shielded Cobus from their notice. Then one of them was seen to bend downward and to
slowly over the bridge, as if trailing some deadly matter in the path of the unsuspecting traveller. After this was done the bearer of the firelock glided down the declivity at the farther abutment, and seemed to pass under the bridge, while the rest passed onward, and quitting the highway, buried themselves in the woody upland that projects into the bay between the two creeks. These movements called
the remembrance of former times in the excited mind of Cobus De Grau. This place,' thought he, has always had a bad name; and what will not people do for money, especially when the fear of God is not before their eyes ? The whole scheme burst upon his mind at once, as if by inspiration. The man who had gone down to the water's edge, armed with his murderous weapon, was doubtless treating with the Old Watcher, or perhaps he was waylaying some harmless traveller who should be offered a ransom for the accursed gold. And who could tell but that they who had gone into those tangled thickets had there some miserable captive, whom they were now about to drag forth and immolate, with hellish rites, to the guardian demon ?
While these thoughts were agitating the breast of the worthy fisherman, like the pent-up fires of a volcano, a new cause of wonder and perplexity arrested his attention. Another company of nightrangers were coming up the road. Alarmed for his own safety, Cobus prostrated himself among some briars and loose stones near the road-fence, and was not observed. They came on rapidly, and were soon upon the fearful bridge bestrown with hidden deathdealing elements. • Now heaven protect them !! he muttered, 'or they will all perish by this nefarious plot!' But his fears were not realized, for they passed quietly over, and following the road along the rippling shore, they were presently hidden by its windings and the intervening rising grounds.
This company presented a still more mysterious aspect than the other. Instead of weapons of death they carried the implements of grave-diggers, and among them were some well-known inhabitants of Peekskill. At their head was 'Squire Stoutenberg, walking with the stately gait of an elephant; and though the 'Squire would not work, and was little able to live without it, yet nobody thought him a bad meaning man. At his side trudged the Dominie Van Der Huyden, who was well known to every man, woman and child in the village. He used to preach in the old Dutch church on the hill till nobody would go up to hear him any longer; he then taught the village-school, and more lately had served as assistant-clerk at the postoffice, for which he asked no other compensation than the privilege of reading the papers first, and occasionally peeping into any. sus
pected letters, that he might be able to impart happiness by telling
He certainly could speak in Latin, and I have heard him use words that I suspected were Greek, for they were neither Dutch nor English; and in preparing himself for his sacred office, he had cultivated an acquaintance with the Hebrew. With such men for leaders, the whole company seemed to be quite above suspicion.
There were others of the company, who, although equally wellknown, were not equally sure guaranties of the good intentions of the party. Among them Cobus recognised an old associate, both in idleness and labor, Staats Van Zuyle ; a hard drinker, but still a very convenient member of the community, as he was always on hand to do small jobs, or to swell any gathering that might be made for some idle or mad adventure. There too was Bartus Lent, who every body said was not lazy, but disinclined to work.' He could not be induced for any consideration to subject himself to the drudgery of regular labor, but he would travel any distance, and submit to any amount of fatigue, if engaged in some outlandish undertakin the rear of the procession, carrying a spade and crow-bar, came black Harry; who, being somewhat club-footed, might have been mistaken by a stranger for another kind of personage; but Cobus knew him, and had no doubt as to his identity. The design of all this was quite beyond the fisherman's powers of conjecturing; but in spite of his firm confidence in the integrity of the leaders of the band, his mind inclined to dark and painful misgivings.
What they did after they had passed out of sight is of course unknown; but it was rumored that the usual incantations were tried without success. Probably the conjurations were not skilfully performed; or, more likely still, in repeating the mystic formula the dominie let fall some word of Hebrew, which the devil dreads as much as he does holy-water. However this may have been, it is pretty certain that they entirely failed in their attempts to raise thu devil.
Not so, however, with the other company, who had gone up to the top of the hill, and were there lurking in silence while these were engaged at the water-side below them. But their silence did not continue long. First came a deep and dismal groan, as if from some sad captive confined in the bowels of the hill
. This was repeated again and again, becoming at each repetition more wild and dismal; the voice seemed also to magnifyy itself into that of a multitude, while every dell and mountain-side echoed back the mournful cadences. To this succeeded thundering and crashing sounds along the hill-sides, with sudden flashes of fire, and all ending with a violent splashing in the water. These phenomena were frequently repeated, and each seemed more terrible than its predecessor ; and at every plunge into the flood, a yell would arise from the hill-top, as if ten thousand elves were there holding their orgies.
At this point the 'Squire suggested that perhaps they were detected in their designs, and that some evil-minded persons had gone up to the top of the hill and were tumbling down rocks upon them; but
the Dominie was inclined to think there was something preternatural about the business; he suspected these thundering missives were nothing less than the demons themselves, done up into fardels, and coming to protect their stores. Things were now rapidly coming to a crisis ; fight and flight were the only alternatives that remained to them; and who could fight with invisible enemies, that came tumbbling from the mountain like avalanches, and were detected only by their terrible thunderings and the gleams of their own unsteady light? What was said in the council-of-war called on the occasion was never reported; but a flight was resolved upon, and at once executed.
These strange transactions had all been carefully noted by Cobus De Grau, who had come down to the margin of the marsh, and was there sitting upon a great stone, awaiting the issue of the matter in the most intense bewilderment. There was he sitting, deeply wrapped in thought, and listening intently to each successive rumbling and crashing sound from the mysterious bodies, if bodies they were, that had so disconcerted the minds of his friends, when he was suddenly aroused from his reveries by the rapid approach of the whole com. pany, who came running pell mell, as if the old keeper had been upon their heels. 'Squire Stoutenberg led the way, alike forgetful of the staid dignity of his character and the years that had passed since he had put his powers of flight to the test. Dominie Van Der Huyden was close behind, having abandoned all confidence in his incantations, and for the moment having no faith in Hebrew. Then came a promiscuous crowd, elbowing and jostling each other, as if assured that indeed the devil would take the hindmost.' Last of all came poor Harry, who was quite unable to hold way with his companions in their flight, though his powers of locomotion were far from contemptible. They soon gained the bridge, and were about to escape from the enchanted region, when they encountered a new obstacle. The tide had risen over the road and made the passage difficult and perilous; but the mole at the road-side was still above the water, affording a safe but narrow path to the high ground. All now seemed likely to end well, for most of the company had proceeded nearly over, and poor Harry was coming rapidly across the bridge, when oh, horribile dictu ! first a frightful blaze burst from the water near the farther abutment of the bridge, followed by a deafening peal of thunder that bellowed up and down the creek, and awakened a hundred echoes among the neighboring hills and more distant mountains ; then fire was communicated to the bridge, which travelled with fearful rapidity from end to end, at first illuminating the whole region, and then leaving it in ten-fold greater darkness, filled with a dense smoke, and fumes of burning brimstone. At first it was presumed that Harry had been carried off by the explosion to satisfy the expectant keeper of the hidden gold; but he soon convinced them to the contrary. Forgetting at once his lameness and love of dry feet, he dashed onward through fire and smoke, measuring three yards at a bound, and splashing through the water like a high-pressure steamboat, till he gained the dry land and was beyond the reach of harm.
So remarkable an affair could not transpire without eliciting some
attention, especially as domestic news was always scarce in the village, and consequently in demand. But the mystery was never fully explained. 'Squire Stoutenberg would never permit himself to be questioned-relative to the matter, and the Dominie, though one would as soon have expected a sieve would hold water as that he would keep a secret, was nevertheless wonderfully oracular on that subject; and even poor Harry would seem wondrous wise when quizzed about it, and would answer all questions on the subject by a knowing shake of the head, and an unusually large display of the white portions of his eyes.
On the other hand, a rumor obtained currency, to the effect that the first company was made up of some of the young men of the village, who had obtained some intimation of the designs of their neighbors, and had taken this method to play a practical joke upon them. These, it was said, had lumbled rocks down the hill upon
the adventurers at the water-side, and by their groans and shrieks had frightened them into a frenzy that resulted in a headlong retreat. At · the bridge a train of gun-powder had been laid, by firing which the alarm of one party and the amusement of the other were completed.
This rumor, though it afforded an ingenious and plausible explanation of the case, rested on no sufficient authority, and was not universally believed. There are yet a good many persons to be found who believe that there is more in the world than its philosophy has ever dreamed of, and who will believe whatever may be proved to them by sufficient evidence. So ended this renowned adventure of the Last of the Money-Diggers.
It is spring ; yet with all the soft sweetness it brings,
How delightful to gaze on her ravishing lip,
What boots it for Hafiz, whose life is a breath,
The poet Bion was born at Smyrna, on the banks of the Meles, a river which HOMER's residence or birth in Ionia had before ennobled. He wrote pastorals in the Doric dialect, lived in Sicily, and died by poison about the third century before CARIST. The idyl of MOSCH08, which laments his death, though rather ambitious in its style, is justly celebrated for its poetical imagery. It is also well Atted, by its tone of melancholy despair, to show us how much revelation has done for man in scattering the darkness which hung over the life to come. The present translator has closely followed the text given by TagoHNITZ in the Leipsic edition, departing from it however so far as to make the poet spoken of in the ninety-first line of the Greek, ANACREON, and not SIMONIDES.
Mourn, mourn, ye leafy dells and Doric waters!
Begin your wail, begin, Sicilian Muses !