« AnteriorContinua »
Putnam, and was founded on a circumstance very similar to the one now related, was no more quoted in genteel society, and even the unblushing Rivington ceased to offer it for sale.
So passed away the alarm. The moon had gained the horizon, and the red cross was observed with perfect distinctness, floating on the gentle breeze of night. The dark hills of Staten Island were tinted with the lunar glow, and to the night glasses there also was visible the banner of St George. Not a sound interrupted the general silence. The river was scarcely disturbed, and pursued, in unbroken calmness, its path to the ocean.
Even at the King's Arms, the noisy chorus of the bar was hushed to silence, and Tippleglass sank to rest with sundry calculations of profit, which were followed by a delightful dream of wealth and repose. He might have been almost heard to exclaim, with ancient Pistol :
• A foutra for the world and worldlings base,
I will a round unvarnished tale deliver.'
The French Revolution threw upon our shores many interesting varieties of the French character. Equality of rights seemed, in those times, to have produced nothing but an equality of wrongs. Emigration was the only remedy that offered to the possessors of light heels and heavy hearts, and, while the train of exiles was swelled by dukes and princes of the blood, it was often marshalled along by valets and dancing masters. Nor was this medley unnatural. The efforts of the agitators were directed to the prostration of the old system, whether upheld in the coffee houses of Paris, or the drawing rooms of Versailles. Thus it often happened, that the humblest citizens, whose opinions were favorable to the ancient state of things, became, from that circumstance, the objects of proscription. A breath, a whisper for the royal cause, turned the scale of the French goddess, while the disturber of their equi
poise felt at the same instant the point of her sword pressing rudely against his breast. A thoughtless expression, often gave a man the most fatal celebrity. The mouth that one moment was stretched with laughter, at the next, (grinned horribly' upon the bloody pike. Flight was therefore the only security left the unfortunate, and the asylum of the oppressed' received its due proportion of the unhappy.
Once safe, however, and those who had escaped the scene of tragedy, were soon figuring in broad farce, or pleasant comedy. The valet who found that our sympathy was graduated by the scale of rank, assumed the name and bearing of his master. His master often finding it impossible to establish his own indentity, quietly took up with his own family name, abandoned its titles, and retreated from further observation. Many ludicrous scenes, many pathetic incidents attended this bouleversement. When, as we sometimes thought, our tears were flowing for the last of a noble line, we afterwards discovered that they had fallen for the woes of a wandering fiddler ; and, on the other hand, while we were undergoing the process of a course of French lessons, it was perhaps an Orleans, or Dubreisl, who was teaching us the story of Telemachus. The lovely Charlotte Le
Blanc had well nigh given her hand and fortune to a well dressed lacquey; and our unfortunate friend count Fortbien, sans credit at his lodging house, accepted with gratitude the heart and home of a rustic heiress.
The incidents we are about to relate are rather of a simpler character than usual, and yet they may amuse those readers, even in this age of startling romance, who retain some quiet corner of their hearts for sympathy and feeling.
As is well known, the Oneida lake was in the direct route of communication between Schenectada and the western waters. The adoption of the policy of the immortal Clinton, and the substitution of a safe and artificial navigation, have almost effaced the recollection of the former tedious mode of travelling. It was a great relief however to the boatmen, when the sinuosities of Wood Creek were safely threaded, and the Lake opened upon their view. All was pleasure, when the merry breeze relieved the crews from labor, and carried them cheerily along the verdant shores and beautiful islands of the Oneida.
At the time of our tale, a neat cabin had risen as if by magic upon one of these cases of the watery waste. Its inmates became at once the objects of
speculation and curiosity. A light canoe always lying at the water's edge indicated the fact that its owner was in correspondence with the inhabitants of the main shore, and the shrill voice of a hound was often heard, waking the sleeping echoes in the distant woodlands. Some navigators had sailed, accidentally or designedly we know not which, so near the island as to have observed much more. They had seen a young woman of surpassing beauty, and habited in a foreign garb, laboring with her own hands, in a little garden. They also reported that the lively notes of a violin were not unfrequently heard by those who had passed by at the hour of nightfall. These circumstances came to the knowledge of a gentleman whose business had called him in that direction, and their singularity induced him to pay the island an immediate visit. Motives, honorable to his heart, prompted him to offer his services to its occupants, if upon examination he should find that they were worthy of that attention. Leaving his batteau in a neighboring cove, he went off alone in a skiff, and landed at a short distance from the door of the cabin. The faithful hound gave tongue as he approached, and, as he pleasantly described it, « with a foreign accent. In an instant, a youthful