THE HISTORY OF A VERY DISTINGUISHED FAMILY.
F. COLBURN ADAMS,
AUTHOR OF "MANUEL PERIERE, OR THE SOVEREIGN RULE OF SOUTH CAROLINA;" "OUR WORLD;" "CHRONICLES OF THE BASTILE;" "AN OUTCAST;" "ADVENTURES OF MAJOR RODGER SHERMAN PORTER;" "THE STORY OF A TROOPER;" "THE SIEGE OF WASHINGTON," ETC.
ILLUSTRATED FROM ORIGINAL DRAWINGS BY A.R. WAUD.
CLAXTON, REMSEN & HAFFELFINGER,
819 AND 821 MARKET STREET
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
F. COLBURN ADAMS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
I never could see what real usefulness there was in a preface to a work of this kind, and never wrote one without a misgiving that it would do more to confuse than enlighten the reader.
The good people of Nyack will pardon me, I know they will, for taking such an unwarrantable liberty as to locate many of my scenes and characters in and around their flourishing little town. I have no doubt there are persons yet living there who will readily recognize some of my characters, especially those of Hanz and Angeline Toodleburg. That the very distinguished family of Von Toodleburgs, which flourished so extensively in New York at a later period, as described in the second series of this work, will also be recognized by many of my readers I have not a doubt. Nyack should not be held responsible for all the sins of the great Kidd Discovery Company, since some of the leading men engaged in that remarkable enterprise lived on the opposite side of the river, many miles away.
The reader must not think I have drawn too extensively on my imagination for material to create "No Man's Island" and build "Dunman's Cave" with. About eighteen years ago I chanced to have for fellow traveller an odd little man, of the name of Price, (better known as Button Price,) who had been captain of a New Bedford or Nantucket whaleship. He was an earnest, warm-hearted, talkative little man, and one of the strangest bits of humanity it had ever been my good fortune to fall in with. He had lost his ship on what he was pleased to call an unknown island in the Pacific. He applied the word "unknown" for the only reason that I could understand, that he did not know it was there until his ship struck on it. He regarded killing a whale as the highest object a man had to live for, and had no very high respect for the mariner who had never "looked round Cape Horn," or engaged a whale in mortal combat. He was on his way home to report the loss of his ship to his owners. An act of kindness, and finding that I knew something of the sea, and could sympathize with a sailor in misfortune, made us firm friends to the end of our journey.
To this odd little man, then, I am indebted for the story of the old pirate of "No Man's Island," and what took place in "Dunman's Cave;" for it was in just such a place, according to his own account, that he lost his ship. Much of his story, as told to me then, seemed strange and incredible—in truth, the offspring of a brain not well balanced.
Time has shown, however, that there was much more truth in this old whaleman's story than I had given him credit for. "No Man's Island" is somewhat better known to navigators now, though still uninhabited and bearing a different name. "Dunman's Cave," too, has been the scene of more than one shipwreck within six years.
Those who have carefully studied the causes producing "boars," or "tidal waves," as they appear in different parts of the world, and the singular atmospheric phenomena which at times accompany them, will not find it difficult to understand the startling changes which took place in "Dunman's Cave" when the "Pacific" was wrecked. They will understand, also, why the "set" was so strong at so great a distance from the entrance, and why the "boar" rose to such a height in a narrow gate, or entrance formed by steep rocks, before it broke, and went rushing and roaring onward with irresistible force. They will also understand what produced the noise resembling the sound of a mighty waterfall.
WASHINGTON, D.C., January, 1868.
I. Ancient Heads of the Family, 9
II. Coming into the World, 16
III. The New Comer, 21
IV. Changed Prospects, 25
V. Tite Toodleburg and a Modern Reformer, 30
VI. A Little Family Affair, 39
VII. The Town moved with Indignation, 46
[Transcriber's note: Chapter VIII is missing in book.]
IX. Tite takes his Departure for the South Sea, 57
X. Mr. and Mrs. Chapman disagree, 63
XI. Mr. Chapman cultivates New Acquaintances, 70
XII. Strange Gentleman, 81
XIII. Captain Bottom, the Whale-Killer, 88
XIV. The Coming Winter and a Merry-Making, 100
XV. Mrs. Chapman and the Upper Circles, 109
XVI. A Night Expedition, 113
XVII. Mr. Gusher is introduced to Mattie, 123
XVIII. Rounding Cape Horn, 135
XIX. Making a Fortune, 143
[Transcriber's note: Chapter XX is missing in book.]
XXI. Coming Events cast their Shadows, 158
XXII. The Chapmans move into the City, 166
XXIII. Mrs. Chapman gives a Ball, 176
XXIV. Very Perplexing, 186
XXV. An Unlucky Voyage, 196
XXVI. Dunman's Cave, 204
XXVII. Old Dunman and the Pirate's Treasure, 213
XXVIII. Mr. Gusher sustains his Character, 225
XXIX. Changed Circumstances, 230
XXX. A Terrible Calamity overtakes the Family, 237
XXXI. A Very Perplexing Situation, 247
XXXII. Harvest-Sunday, 251
XXXIII. Returned Home, 260
XXXIV. He brings Joy into the House, 273
XXXV. How He got away from the Island, 277
XXXVI. An Interesting Ceremony, 282
THE VON TOODLEBURGS,
History of a very Distinguished Family.
ANCIENT HEADS OF THE FAMILY.
Not more than a mile from the brisk little town of Nyack, on the Hudson river, and near where the road makes a sharp turn and winds up into the mountain, there lived, in the year 1803, an honest old farmer of the name of Hanz Toodleburg. Hanz was held in high esteem by his neighbors, many of whom persisted in pronouncing his name Toodlebug, and also electing him hog-reef every year, an honor he would invariably decline. He did this, he said, out of respect to the rights of the man last married in the neighborhood. It mattered not to Hanz how his name was pronounced; nor did it ever occur to him that some of his more ambitious descendants might be called on in a court of law to explain the circumstances under which their name was changed. I speak now of things as they were when the old settlers around Nyack were honest and unsuspecting, before Fulton had astonished them with his steamboat, or those extravagant New Yorkers had invaded the town, building castles overlooking the Tappan Zee, and school-houses where the heads of honest Dutch children were filled with wicked thoughts.
Hanz Toodleburg was short and stout of figure, had a full, round face, a large blunt nose, and a small gray eye. Indeed, there was no mistaking his ancestors, in whose language he spoke whenever the Dominie paid him a visit, which he did quite often, for Hanz had always good cheer in the house; and a bed for a stranger. In short, it was a boast of Hanz that no traveller ever passed his house hungry, if he knew it. And it increased his importance with his neighbors that he raised more bushels to the acre than any of them, and sent better vegetables to the New York market. More than that, he would tell all the big folks in the village, with a nod of his head, that he owed no man a stiver he could not pay before the sun set, and in such a way as to convey a sly hint that it was more than they could do. The neighbors consulted Hanz concerning their worldly affairs, and, indeed, received his opinions as good authority. In fine, Hanz and the Dominie were called in to settle nearly all the disputes arising between the country folks for miles around. And it was said by these simple minded people that they got their rights quicker and less expensively in this way than when they went to law in the village and trusted to the magistrate and the lawyers for justice.
As, however, there always will be idle and gossiping people everywhere to say unkind things of their neighbors, especially when they are more prosperous than themselves, so there were gossips and mischievous people in the settlement who, when engaged over their cups, would hint at suspicious enterprises in which Hanz's ancestors were engaged on the Spanish Main. Indeed, they would hint at times that it was not saying much for his family that his father had sailed with Captain Kidd, which would account for the doubloons and Mexican dollars Hanz could always bring out of a "rainy day." That Hanz had a stock of these coins put safely away there could not be a doubt, for he would bring them out at times and part with them, declaring in each case that they were the last. But how he came by them was a mystery not all the wisdom of the settlement could penetrate. It was conceded that if there was any man in the settlement who knew more than Jacques, the schoolmaster, it was Titus Bright, who kept the little inn near the big oak; and these two worthies would discuss for hours over their toddy the question of how Hanz came by his dollars and doubloons. But they never came to a decision; and generally ended by sending their listeners home with their wits worse perplexed than ever. It was all well enough for old Jacques and the inn-keeper to show their knowledge of history; but the gossips would have it that if Hanz's father had sailed with Captain Kidd he, of course, knew where that bold pirate had buried his treasure, and had imparted the secret to his son. Here was the way Hanz came possessed of the doubloons and dollars. Indeed, it was more than hinted that Hanz had been seen of dark and stormy nights navigating the Tappan Zee, alone in his boat, and no one knew where he went. Another had it that he was sure to part with a doubloon or two shortly after one of these excursions, which told the tale. There were others who said it did not matter a fig if Hanz Toodlebug's doubloons were a part of Kidd's hidden treasure; but it was selfish of him not to disclose the secret, and by so doing give his neighbors a chance to keep as good cows and sheep as he did. Hanz was not the man to notice small scandal, and continued to smoke his pipe and make his friends welcome whenever they looked in. Once or twice he had been heard to say, that if anybody was particular to know how he came by his doubloons and dollars he would tell them. There was a place up in the mountain where he made them.
I will say here, for the benefit of my readers, that the little old house where Hanz Toodleburg lived, and about which there clustered so many pleasant memories, still stands by the roadside, and is an object of considerable curiosity. It is much gone to decay now, and a very different person occupies it. There are persons still living in the village who knew Hanz, and never pass the place without recurring to the many happy hours spent under his roof. That was in the good old days, before Nyack began to put on the airs of a big town. There is the latticed arch leading from the gate to the door; the little veranda, where the vines used to creep and flower in spring; the moss-covered roof, and the big arm chair, made of cedar branches, where Hanz used to sit of a summer evening contemplating the beauties of the Tappan Zee, while drinking his cider and smoking his pipe. It was in this little veranda that business of great importance to the settlers would at times be discussed. The good sloop Heinrich was at that time the only regular New York packet, making the round voyage every week. Her captain, one Jonah Balchen, was much esteemed by the people of Nyack for his skill in navigation; and it was said of him that he knew every rock and shoal in the Tappan Zee, and no man ever lost his life who sailed with him. The arrival of the good sloop Heinrich then was quite an event, and whenever it occurred the neighbors round about would gather into Hanz's little veranda to hear what news she brought from the city, and arrange with Captain Balchen for the next freight. Indeed, these honest old Dutchmen used to laugh at the idea of a man who would think of navigating the Tappan Zee in a boat with a big tea-kettle in her bottom, and making the voyage to New York quicker than the good sloop Heinrich.
I have been thus particular in describing Hanz Toodleburg's little home, since it was the birth-place of Titus Bright Von Toodleburg, who flourished at a more recent date as the head of a very distinguished family in New York, and whose fortunes and misfortunes it is my object to chronicle.
Having spoken only of one side of the family, I will proceed now to enlighten the reader with a short account of the other, "Mine vrow, Angeline," for such was the name by which Hanz referred to his good wife, was a woman of medium size and height, and endowed with remarkable good sense and energy. Heaven had also blessed her with that gentleness of temper so necessary to make a home happy. They had, indeed, been married nearly twenty years, and although nothing had come of it in the way of an offspring, not a cross word had passed between them. It was said to her credit that no housewife this side of the Tappan Zee could beat her at making bread, brewing beer, or keeping her house in good order. The frosts of nearly forty winters had whitened over her brows, yet she had the manner and elasticity of a girl of eighteen, and a face so full of sweetness and gentleness that it seemed as if God had ordained it for man's love. Angeline's dress was usually of plain blue homespun, woven by her own hands, and with her cap and apron of snowy whiteness she presented a picture of neatness and comeliness not seen in every house.
There was a big, square room on the first floor, with a little bed room adjoining, and an old-fashioned bed with white dimity curtains, fringe, and tassels made by Angeline's own hand. Snow white curtains also draped the windows; and there was a tidy and cosy air about the little bed room that told you how good a housewife Angeline was. An old-fashioned hand-loom stood in one corner of the big, square room; and a flax and a spinning-wheel had their places in another. A farm-house was not considered well furnished in those days without these useful implements, nor was a housewife considered accomplished who could not card, spin, and weave. Angeline carded her own wool, spun her own yarn, and weaved the best homespun made in the settlement; and had enough for their own use and some to sell at the store. In addition to that there was no housewife more expert at the flax-wheel, and her homemade linen was famous from one end to the other of the Tappan Zee. Hanz was, indeed, so skilful in the art of raising, hetcheling, and dressing flax, that all the neighbors wanted to borrow his hetchel. And if needs be he could make reeds and shuttles for the loom, while Angeline always used harnesses of her own make. And so industrious was this good wife that you could rarely pass the house of a night without hearing the hum of the wheel or the clink of the loom.
The good people about Nyack were honest in those days, paid their debts, were happy in their very simplicity, and had no thought of sending to Paris either for their fabrics or their fashions.
Now Angeline's father was a worthy blacksmith, an honest and upright man, who lived hard by, had a house of his own, and owed no man a shilling. This worthy blacksmith had two daughters, Angeline and Margaret, both remarkable for their good looks, and both blessed with loving natures. And it was said by the neighbors that the only flaw in the character of this good man's family was made by pretty Margaret, who went away with and married one Gosler, a travelling mountebank. This man, it is true, asserted that he was a Count in his own country, and that misfortune had brought him to what he was. His manners were, indeed, those of a gentleman; and there were people enough who believed him nothing more than a spy sent by the British to find out what he could.
COMING INTO THE WORLD.
It was mentioned in the last chapter that Hanz Toodleburg had seen twenty years of the happiest of wedded life; and yet that Angeline had not increased his joys with an offspring. Thoughtless people made much ado about this, and there were enough of them in the settlement to get their heads together and say all sorts of unkind things to Hanz concerning this family failing. I verily believe that the time of one-half of the human family is engaged seeking scandal in the misfortunes of the other. And I have always found that you got the ripest scandal in the smallest villages; and Nyack was not an exception. No wonder, then, that Hanz had to bear his share of that slander which one-half the world puts on the other. Not an idle fellow at the inn, where Hanz would look in of an evening, but would have his sly joke. Many a time he had to "stand" cider and ale for the company, and considered he got off cheap at that. And when they drank his health, it was with insinuating winks and nods; one saying:
"What a pity. He ought to have somebody to leave his little farm to."
"Yes," another would interrupt; "if he had a son he'd be sure to leave him the secret of Kidd's treasure."
The gossips of the village were to change their tune soon. Dame rumor had been whispering it around for a month that there was something in the wind at Toodleburg's. And, to put it more plainly, it was added that Hanz was soon to be made a happy man by the appearance of a little Toodleburg. This change, or rather apparent change, in the prospects of the family did not relieve Hanz from the tax for ale and cider levied on him by the idle fellows at the inn. Indeed, he had to stand just twice the number of treats in return for the compliments paid him as a man and a Christian. It was noticed, also, that the Dominie took tea more frequently at Hanz's table; and that Critchel, the little snuffy doctor, who had practised in the settlement for a quarter of a century, and, indeed, assisted in bringing at least one-half of its inhabitants into the world, and of course was considered very safe in such cases, had increased his visits at the house.
Now these honest old burghers had almanacs made with strict regard to truth, and if they prognosticated a storm it was sure to come. They would not consider it safe to navigate the Tappan Zee on a day fixed by the almanac for a storm. On the 5th day of January, 1805, in the almanac that never failed Hanz, there was this: "Look out for a snow storm." This time, however, the snow, if not the storm, was ahead of the almanac. Indeed, it had been falling slowly and gently for two days; and a white sheet of it, at least three inches deep, covered the ground on the morning of the 5th. The weather had changed during the night, and now the air was sharp and cold. Dark, bleak clouds hung along the horizon in the northeast, the distant hills stood out sharp and cold, and a chilling wind whispered and sighed through the leafless trees. Then the wind grew stronger and stronger, the snow fell thicker and faster, making fantastic figures in the air, then dancing and scudding to the force of the gale, and shutting the opposite shore from sight. Nyack lay buried in a storm, and the Tappan Zee was in a tempest. Snow drifted through the streets, up the lanes, over the houses, and put night-caps on the mountain tops. Snow danced into rifts in the roads and across fields, and sent the traveller to the inn for shelter. Lowing cattle sought the barn-yard for shelter, or huddled together under the lee of some hay-stack, covered with snow. Night came, and still the snow fell, and the wind blew in all its fury.
It was on that cold, stormy night that a bright light might have been seen burning in the little house where Hanz Toodleburg lived. The storm had shook its frame from early morning; and now the windows rattled, discordant sounds were heard on the veranda, wind sighed through the crevices, and fine snow rifted in under the door and through the latch-hole, and tossed itself into little drifts on the floor. Nyack was buried in a storm that night. There was an old clock on the mantle-piece, and it kept on ticking, and its ticks could be heard above the storm. And the bright oak fire in the great fireplace threw out shadows that flitted over the great loom, and the wheels, and the festoons of dried apples, and the pumpkins that hung from the beams overhead. And old Deacon, the faithful watch-dog, lay coiled up on the flag hearth-stone.
The old clock had nearly marked the hour of midnight as Hanz came out of the little room in an apparently agitated state of mind. The dog raised his head and moved his tail as Hanz approached the fire and threw some sticks on. "Dere's no postponin' it; and it sthorms so," muttered Hanz, shaking his head. Then he put on his big coat and boots, drew his cap over his ears, and went out into the storm, leaving the big dog on guard. How he struggled through the snow that night, what difficulty he had in waking up his two nearest neighbors, and getting one of them to send his son for Doctor Critchel, and what was said about such things always happening of such a night, I will leave to the imagination of my reader.
It was nearly an hour before Hanz returned, bringing with him two stout, motherly-looking dames. The storm had handled their garments somewhat roughly, and they were well covered with snow. The old dog was pleased to see them, and wagged them a welcome, and made sundry other signs of his affection. And when they had shaken the snow from their garments, and taken seats by the fire, Hanz gave them fresh pipes, which they lighted and proceeded to enjoy while he went to preparing something warm for their stomachs, and doing various other little things regarded as indispensable on such an occasion.
The storm had caught the little house by the shoulders, and was giving it one of its most violent shakes, when the dog suddenly started up, gave a growl, then walked solemnly to the door and listened. A footstep in the old veranda, then the stamping of feet, and a knock at the door came. It was Critchel, the little snuffy doctor, who entered, looking for all the world like an enlarged snow-ball. These were the occasions in which the doctor rose into the most importance, and as his coming had been waited with great anxiety, great efforts were made by those present to assure him of the esteem in which he was held. Even the dog would not go to his accustomed place on the hearth until he had caressed the doctor at least a dozen times. Although held in great respect by the settlers, Critchel was what might be called a shabby-looking little man, for his raiment consisted of a brown coat, which he had worn threadbare, a pair of greasy pantaloons that were in shreds at the bottom, a spotted vest, and a Spitlesfield neckerchief. Indeed, he was as antique in his dress as in his ideas of the science of medicine. He had a round, red face, a short, upturned red nose, and a very bald head, which Hanz always declared held more sense than people were willing to give him credit for. There was no quainter figure than this familiar old doctor as seen mounted on his big-headed and clumsy-footed Canadian pony, his saddle-bags well filled with pills and powders, and ready to bleed or blister at call. He was considered marvelously skilful, too, at drawing teeth and curing the itch, with which the honest Dutch settlers were occasionally afflicted. I must mention, also, that an additional cause of the great respect shown him by the settlers was that he took his pay in such things as they raised on their little farms and could best spare.
THE NEW COMER.
The storm ceased its fury at four o'clock, and a cold, bright, and calm morning succeeded. The hills stood out in sharp, clear outlines, mother earth had put on her cleanest cap, and there was not a ripple on all the Tappan Zee. Hanz Toodleburg was now the happiest man in Nyack, for Heaven had blessed his house and heart during the morning with as plump and healthy a boy as ever was seen. There was a fond mother and a happy father in the little house now; and the sweet innocent babe, their first born, was like flowers strewn along their road of life. It was something to live for, something to hope for, something to brighten their hopes of the future, and to sweeten their love-dream.
In spite of the snow drifts, news of this important event ran from one end to the other of the settlement before the sun was an hour up, and set it all aglow. The roadmaster was early at the door to warn Hanz out to break roads, but excused him when he heard how happy a man he had been made during the night. And when the merry men came along with their oxen, and their sledges, and their drag-logs, ploughing through and tossing the snow aside, and making a way for the traveller, there were cheers given for honest Hanz and the little gentleman who had just come to town. And as they ploughed along through the drifts, they struck up a merry song, which so excited Hanz's emotions that he could not resist the temptation to put on his coat and follow them. And when they reached Titus Bright's inn that ruddy-faced host met them at the door and bade them welcome under his roof, and invited them to drink flip at his expense. Hanz was treated and complimented in steaming mugs, and the health and happiness of mother and son were not forgotten. Even the Dominie was sent for, and made to drink flip and tell a story, which he did with infinite good humor. Then the school-master, who was not to be behind any of them when there was flip in the wind, looked in to pay his compliments to Hanz, for the snow had closed up his little school-house for the day. But, in truth, the pedagogue had a weakness he could not overcome, and when invited to take flip tossed off so many mugs as completely to loose his wits, though his tongue ran so nimbly that he was more than a match for the Dominie, who declined discussing a question of religion with him, but offered to tell a story for every song he would sing. Four mugs of flip and two songs and the school-master went into a deep sleep in his chair, where he remained for the rest of the day.
The question as to who should name the young gentleman at Hanz's house was now discussed. The names of various great men were suggested, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Hanz shook his head negatively at the mention of these. "It vas not goot to give a poy too pig a name; t-makes um prout ven da grows up," he said. It was finally agreed that the young gentleman should be called Titus Bright, after the little ruddy-faced inn-keeper. And the little man was so pleased with the idea of having his name engrafted on that of the Toodleburg family, that he promised a fat turkey and the best pig of the litter for the christening dinner. More flip was now drank, and the merry party shook hands and parted in the best of temper.
Hanz felt that as Heaven had blessed him and Angeline with this fine boy, and so increased their joys, he must do something generous for his friends. So, on the morning following he sent the Dominie a pig and a peck of fine flour, for which that quaint divine thanked him and prayed Heaven that he might send more. He gave the school-master a big pipe and tobacco enough to last him a month. He also ordered the tailor to make the pedagogue a new suit of homespun, something the poor man had not had for many a day. School-mastering was not a business men got rich at in those days, and poor Wiggins, for such was his name, had a hard time to keep the wolf from his door. Indeed, he thought himself well paid with four dollars a week and his victuals, which he got around among the parents of his scholars. His worldly goods consisted of little else than his birch and pipe, and the shabby clothes on his back. And as the length of his engagements depended on his good behavior, which was none of the best, he was frequently seen tramping from village to village in search of a job.
As for Doctor Critchel, Hanz felt that he owed him a debt of gratitude he could never pay, even were he to give him the farm. It was no use offering the doctor a new suit of clothes, as he was never known to wear such things. As for snuff-boxes, he had at least a dozen. Hanz sent him a goose to roast for his dinner, a fat sheep, and a bag of extra flour, just from the mill.
I may have been too particular in describing how and when this young gentleman came into the world, but my reason for it is that there may be those among my readers who will recognize the great and very distinguished family of Von Toodleburg, which not many years ago amazed New York with its brilliancy, and be anxious to know some of the ups and downs of its early history.
Twelve years have passed since that stormy night when Titus Bright Toodleburg—for the young gentleman as I have said before, was named after the inn-keeper, came into the world. Great changes have taken place since then. Tite, as the neighbors all call him, is now a bright, intelligent boy, and a great favorite in the village. Hanz and Angeline are proud of him, and he promises to be the joy of their declining years. Hanz had always held to the opinion that men with too much learning were dangerous to the peace of a neighborhood, inasmuch as it caused them to neglect their farms and take to pursuits in which the devil was served and honest people made beggars. He had, however, sent Tite to school, and now the young gentleman could read, write, and cypher; and this, he declared, was learning enough to get a man safe through the world if he but followed an honest occupation and saved his money. In addition to so much learning, the young gentleman had early discovered an enterprising spirit, and a remarkable taste for navigation. When only six years old he had his tiny sloops and schooners, rigged by himself, on every duck-pond in the neighborhood. And he could sail them with a skill remarkable in one so young. Indeed, these duck-ponds were a source of great annoyance to Angeline, for whenever one of Tite's crafts met with an accident he would wade to its relief, no matter what the condition or color of the water.
Hanz shook his head, and felt that no good would come of this taste for the sea on the part of Tite. He intended to bequeath him the farm, so that he could spend his life like an honest man in raising good vegetables for the New York market. Following the sea, Hanz urged, was a very dangerous occupation, and where one man made any money by it, more than a dozen lost their lives by storms. But Tite was not to be put off by such arguments. The spirit of adventure was in the boy, and all other objects had to yield to his natural inclinations. And now, at the age of twelve, we find Tite a smart, sprightly cabin-boy, on board the good sloop Heinrich, making the voyage to New York and back once a week, and taking his first lessons in practical seamanship.
Wonderful changes had been developed along the beautiful Hudson during these twelve years. People in the country said New York was getting to be a very big, and a very wicked city. Already her skirmishers, in a line of little houses, were pushed beyond the canal, and were obliterating the cow-paths. The honest old Dutch settlers shrugged their shoulders, and said it was not a good sign to see people get rich so fast. Indeed, they declared that these fast and extravagant New Yorkers, who were building great houses and sending big ships to all parts of the world, would bring ruin on the country.
A ship of five hundred tons had been added to the old London line, and her great size was an object of curiosity. But the man who projected her was regarded by careful merchants as very reckless, and not a safe man to trust.
That which troubled the minds of these peaceable old settlers most was Mr. Fulton and his steamboat. Steam they declared to be a very dangerous thing. And, as for this Mr. Fulton, he should be sent to an insane asylum, before he destroyed all his friends, and lost all his money in this dangerous undertaking. He might navigate the river with a big tea-kettle in the bottom of his boat, but he would be sure to set all the houses along the river on fire. And who was to pay the damages? Steam was, however, a reality, and the little Fire Fly went puffing and splashing up and down the river, alarming and astonishing the people along its banks. She could make the voyage from the upper end of the Tappan Zee to New York in a day, no matter how the wind blew. Hanz Toodleburg called the Fire Fly an invention of the devil, and nobody else. The bright blaze of her furnaces, and the long trail of fire and sparks issuing from her funnel of a dark night, gave a spectre-like appearance to her movements, that rather increased a belief amongst the superstitious that she was really an invention of the evil one, sent for some bad purpose.
A meeting was called at Hanz Toodleburg's house to consider the dangerous look of things along the river. The Dominie and the schoolmaster, and all the wise men in the settlement, were present, and gave their opinions with the greatest gravity. If this Mr. Fulton, it was argued, could, with the aid of the evil one, build these steamboats to go to New York and back in a day, why there was an end to the business of sloops and barges. And if the honest men who owned these vessels were thrown out of business, how were they to get bread for their families? These new inventions, Hanz argued, would be the ruin of no end of honest people.
The schoolmaster, who assumed great wisdom on all such occasions, and who had tossed off several pots of beer during the evening, put the whole matter in a much more encouraging light. He had read something about steam, he said, and knew that it was a very dangerous thing for a man to trifle with. Mr. Fulton had built his steamboat one hundred and nine feet long; and he could get to New York and back in a day, if nothing happened to his boiler, which was all the time in danger of bursting. Then if the boiler bursted, very likely the boat and all in her would go to the bottom. Just let that happen once in the Tappan Zee, and there would be an end to Mr. Fulton and his invention for getting people to New York quick. Just let him set the Tappan Zee afire once, and people would make such a storm that nothing more would be heard of his inventions. When there was such danger of losing one's life travelling in this way, what careful farmer, who had a family depending on him, would think of either going himself or sending his produce to market in such a way? There was no wisdom in the thing. The people would stick to the sloops. That was the only safe way for sensible people to get to market. Let them stick to the sloops, and Mr. Fulton would not build a castle of what he got by his inventions.
The meeting was highly gratified at what the schoolmaster had said, and, indeed, felt so much relieved that Hanz ordered a keg of fresh beer to be tapped. These noisy, splashing steamboats would frighten people, and by that means the good old-fashioned way of getting to market would not be interfered with. It was also a source of great relief to these honest people, that when those extravagant New Yorkers had spent all their money on such wild and dangerous experiments, they would be content to stay at home and mind their own business. Another source of great alarm to these honest people was that several New Yorkers had come to Nyack, and were building large houses, and otherwise setting examples of extravagance to their children, when it was reported that they did not pay their honest debts in town. The people of Hudson, too, were going wild over a project for establishing a South-sea Company, and sending ships to the far off Pacific ocean—where the people were, it had been said, in the habit of eating their friends—to catch whales. Now, as the people of Hudson had no more money than was needed at home, this dangerous way of spending all they had was not to be justified.
Satisfied that they had settled a question of grave importance, and in which the great interests of the country were involved, these honest Dutchmen smoked another pipe and drank another mug of beer, and then went quietly to their homes, feeling sure that the world and all Nyack would be a gainer by what they had done.
TITE TOODLEBURG AND A MODERN REFORMER.
Young Tite Toodleburg has grown up to be a boy of sixteen. A bright, handsome fellow he is, every inch a sailor, and full of the spirit of adventure. There is something more than Dutch blood in Tite, and it begins to show itself. His figure is erect and slender, his hair soft and flaxen, and his blue eyes and fresh, smiling face, almost girlish in its expression, gave to his regular features a softness almost feminine. And yet there was something manly, resolute, and even daring in his actions. There was no such thing as fear in his nature. He had acquired such a knowledge of seamanship that he could handle the good sloop Heinrich quite as skilfully as the skipper, and, indeed, make the voyage to New York as promptly as the greatest navigator on the Tappan Zee. He was expert, too, at taking in and delivering out cargo, could keep the sloop's account, and drive as good a trade as any of them with the merchants in Fly Market. In this way Tite made a host of friends, who began to look forward to the time when he would have a sloop of his own, and be in a way to do friendly acts for them, perhaps to make a fortune for himself.
Tite thought very differently. Navigating the river in a sloop, to be passed by one of Mr. Fulton's steamboats, was not the sort of sea-faring that suited his ambition. He had seen big ships come home, after long voyages, and the majesty of their appearance excited his spirit of adventure. He had also spent his evenings reading the works of celebrated navigators and travellers; and these very naturally increased his curiosity to know more of the world and see the things they had seen. He had also looked out through the Narrows of New York harbor, and his young heart had yearned to be on the broad ocean beyond. If he could only master all the mysteries of Bowditch, be a skilful navigator, and capable of sailing a ship to any part of the world, and see strange things and people—that day might come, he thought to himself. He had listened, too, for hours at a time, to the stories of old sailors who had come on board the sloop while in port. One had been to India, and another to Ceylon; and both told wonderful stories concerning the voyages they had made and the people they had met. Another had seen every port in the North Pacific, had been wrecked on Queen Charlotte's Island, and told wonderful stories of his adventures in rounding Cape Horn. His adventures among the South Sea Islands were of the most romantic kind, and colored so as to incite the ambition of a venturesome young lad like Tite to the highest pitch. There was another old sailor who had sailed the South and North Pacific, had killed his score of whales, and been as many times within an inch of losing his own life.
These stories so fired the young gentleman's imagination that he resolved to try his fortune at a whaling voyage as soon as the people of Hudson sent their first ship out. There was the wide world before him, and perhaps he might find the means of making a fortune in some distant land. But how was he to break this resolution to his kind parents, whom he loved so dearly? What effect would it have on his mother, who doted on him, and for whom he had the truest affection? His mind hung between hope for the future and duty to his parents. Regularly every Saturday afternoon Tite had come home, received his mother's blessing, and put his earnings into her hands for safe-keeping. There would be an end of this if he went to the South Sea. Then his parents were both getting old, and would soon need a protector, and if anything serious happened to them during his absence how could he ever forgive himself. Week after week and month after month did Tite ponder these questions in his mind, and still his resolution to see the world grew stronger and stronger.
It was about this time that there settled in Nyack a queer and very inquisitive sort of man of the name of Bigelow Chapman. He was a restless, discontented sort of man, very slender of figure, with sharp, well-defined features, keen gray eye, and wore his dark hair long and unkept. His manner was that of a man discontented with the world, which, he said, needed a great deal of reforming; indeed, that it could be reformed, ought to be reformed, and that he was the man to do it. He had been the founder of Dogtown, Massachusetts, where he had built up a very select community of keen-witted men and women—just to set an example to the world of how people ought to live. Dolly Chapman, his wife, (for what would a reformer be without a wife,) was a ponderous woman, weighing more than two hundred pounds, and a proof that even in matrimony the opposites meet. She was a fussy, ill-bred woman, spoke with a strong nasal twang, and a sincere believer in all the reforms advocated by her husband, though she differed with him on one or two points of religion. And there was Mattie Chapman, a bright, bouncing girl of fifteen, with rosy cheeks and fair hair, ambitious for one of her age, and evidently inclined to make a show in the world. These constituted the Chapman family.
Dogtown, of which I made mention, was a creation of Chapman's. With it he was to demonstrate how the world could be reformed, and how the prejudices were to be driven from other people's minds. Strong-minded people from various towns in Massachusetts came and settled in Dogtown, invested their money, were to do an equal share of work, and receive an equal share of profits, and live together as happily as lambs. But Dogtown did not long continue a paradise. Indeed, it soon became famous for two things: for the name of Bigelow Chapman, and for having more crazy and quarrelsome people in it than could be found in any other town in Massachusetts, which was saying a good deal. The brothers and sisters, for such they called themselves, got to quarrelling among themselves on matters of politics and religion, though charity was a thing they made no account of. In truth, there was more politics than religion in their preaching.
Chapman constituted himself treasurer of the community, and some little private speculations of his led to a belief among the brothers and sisters that his mind was not solely occupied with schemes for reforming the world. To tell the truth, Bigelow Chapman was not so great a fool as his followers. He had intended, when Dogtown got thoroughly under way, to sell out, put the money in his pocket, and employ his genius somewhere else. He, however, undertook the enterprise of building a church on speculation, being persuaded to do so by an outside Christian.
The church was to be a large, handsome building, with a butcher's shop and a grocery, a shoe store and a confectionery in the basement, and a school and a dancing academy up stairs; so that the brothers and sisters could get everything they wanted, religion included, in one locality. But the enterprise failed for want of funds to finish it, and Dogtown went to the dogs, and the Chapman family to Nyack. Report has it that the church was afterwards finished and converted into an insane asylum, where several of the brothers and sisters lived for the rest of their lives.
It was hinted that Chapman had brought some money to Nyack with him, but exactly how much no one knew. The only thing positively known about him at that time was that he had a great number of new ideas, all of which he was in great haste to develope. Indeed, he soon had Nyack in a state of continual agitation. He declared it his first duty to open the eyes of the Dutch settlers to truth and right; then to get them to thinking; and finally to make fortunes for all of them. He begun business, however, by quarrelling with nearly everybody in the village, and asserting that he knew more than all of them.
Twice he had Titus Bright, the inn-keeper, up before the magistrate and fined for selling liquor in opposition to law. He proclaimed it highly immoral to sell liquor at all, and told Bright to his teeth that no honest man would do it. For this he had been twice kicked out of the inn by Bright, who damned him as a meddling varlet, not to be tolerated in a peaceable village. Again he had Bright up before the magistrate, who justified the aggression, but fined the aggressor ten dollars a kick, which Bright considered cheap enough considering what was got for his money. Bright declared it a principle with him to give his customers what they wanted, and let them be the judge of their own necessities. Bigelow Chapman held that mankind was a big beast, to be subdued and governed by laws made for his subjection. It never occurred to him, however, that there might be reason in the opinions of others. Finding, however, that he could not get the better of Bright in any other way, he organized a company and set up an opposition tavern, where a traveller could feel at home and have none of the annoyances of beer. The new inn was to be conducted on strictly temperance principles, and the price of board was to be reduced a dollar a week. But the principle of temperance was carried out so rigidly in the fare that travellers, although treated politely enough, found it difficult to get anything to eat, to say nothing of drink.
While this was going on Mrs. Bigelow Chapman was busying herself getting up an anti-tea-and-coffee-drinking society. She declared that this coffee and tea-drinking was nothing less than an oppression, breaking down people's health and making them poor, while the grocers who sold the stuff were getting rich. It was evident, also, that she was carrying her principles out on the table of the new inn. However commendable these reforms might be in the eyes of a true reformer, they were not exactly the thing to satisfy the wants of hungry travellers. The new inn soon got up an excellent reputation for giving its customers nothing but politeness and clean linen. This not being satisfactory to the travelling public generally, the establishment had to close its doors for want of customers. Chapman was surprised at this. He could not understand why reformers were not better appreciated about Nyack. The stock-holders, however, had lost all their money, and were glad to sell out to Chapman, which they did for a trifle, and that was all he wanted.
People began to inquire what the big building would next be turned into. Mrs. Chapman and her dear husband, as she called him, were always projecting something new. Indeed, she saw two fortunes in the future where Chapman only saw one. The thought invaded her mind that there was a fortune to be made by turning the big house into a great moral progress boarding-school for young ladies, where "all the proprieties" would be strictly attended to. Yes, "the proprieties" would take with steady-minded people. She could attend to the proprieties, and dear Chapman could look after the little money affairs. She did not want to trouble herself with the sordid things of this world; she only wanted to reform it. And to do that you must begin at the bottom. You must teach young people, and especially young ladies, the value of reforms. In that way you enable them to reform their husbands when they get them, and also make them comprehend the value of new ideas. As for old people, she declared it time wasted to try to get new ideas into their heads.
Chapman congratulated his dear wife on this new and grand idea. He agreed with her that a woman was just the thing to straighten up a husband in need of mental and physical reformation. But it would not do to start the enterprise until you could get people to take stock enough to insure a sound basis. He did not care about money himself, still it was necessary to the success of all great enterprises. And seeing that the inn had failed, though based on great moral principles, he was not quite sure that the people would hasten to take stock in the new enterprise.
It was also an objection with Chapman that with such an institution there would be nothing to run opposition to except a few beer-drinking school-masters, who got their victuals and fifteen dollars a month for driving a knowledge of the rule of three into the heads of little Dutch children. How different it would be with a church. And then the big inn could be made such an excellent church, at such a small expense. A man owning a church could feel himself strong in both politics and religion, and have all the quarrels he wanted. Chapman was delighted with this new idea of his; and his good wife supposed it was infinitely superior to her own. It was another proof to her that there was no greater man in the world than her dear Chapman. Once get the church going, and with a preacher of the Dogtown school, to preach out and out transcendentalism, and another ism or two, and they could get up an opposition that would be popular with the people. In that way the thing would be sure to go.
Chapman declared this a golden opportunity. He had felt for some time like getting up something that would drive the devil and all the Dutchmen out of Nyack and into the Tappan Zee, and establish an entire new order of things.
It was agreed between Chapman and his good wife that the church should be put on its legs without delay; that the work of reforming Nyack and the rest of the world should begin at once. As funds were necessary to all great enterprises, and Chapman was inclined at all times to husband his own, the good woman got up a regular season of religious tea-parties, exclusively "for ladies." Mrs. Chapman was intent on popularizing the enterprise, and to that end had inserted on her cards of invitation, "exclusively for ladies." There was nothing like tea when you wanted to make a great reform movement popular. Chapman had more than once said that woman, under the inspiration of tea, made a mighty engine in moving the world. Under its influence they gave enlargement and development to progressive ideas. It had been charged that great generals won their most celebrated battles under the influence of strong drink. He had known great generals to win great battles under the inspiration of tea alone. Tea and women were prodigious in their way.
The tea parties were not only got on their legs, but soon became very popular. There were women enough in Nyack to give them, and neither rain nor hail would keep them home of a Thursday evening. The great value of progressive ideas was thoroughly discussed over these cups; and the fact that their husbands were to be brought into a line of subjugation not before anticipated had an inspiring effect. In short, female Nyack began to carry a high head, and to make male Nyack feel that he was no longer master in its own house. Dolly Chapman presided at these tea-parties with that smartness peculiar to women of her class, taking particular pains to explain how much could be done for Nyack and the world—if only the women could get the direction of things into their own hands. A church as the means of carrying out these new and grand ideas was exactly what was wanted. The tea-party women all took up the idea, and the enterprise was made so popular that each resolved herself into a begging committee, and soon had collected the sum of seven hundred dollars, an amount sufficient to put the thing on its legs.
A LITTLE FAMILY AFFAIR.
While the heads of the Chapman family were engaged in their great work of reform, and Hanz Toodleburg, as the head of the Dutch settlers, was preparing to resist all their efforts, Mattie Chapman and young Tite were engaging in a matter of a very different nature. A little flame of love had begun to burn in their youthful hearts, and was giving out such manifestations of tenderness. I have noticed that when once the little under-current of love begins to ebb and flow in young and innocent hearts, it will break over whatever obstacles you put in its way, and rarely stops until it has reached that haven of happiness called matrimony. The parents of these young people seemed to have been cast in opposite moulds, mentally and physically. Their modes of thought, their expectations, and their manner of living differed entirely. Hanz Toodleburg was simple-minded, honest, contented with his lot in the world, smoked his pipe, and lived in peace with his neighbors. And these he esteemed the greatest blessings a man could enjoy. Chapman was restless, designing, ambitious of wealth, and ready always to quarrel with those who did not fall in with his opinions. Indeed, he never seemed happier than when he had a quarrel on hand; and he had the rare tact of turning a quarrel into profit.
It was very different with the young people. In their innocent hearts the fires of love had been kindled, and they were burning brighter and brighter every day. The thought that they should incur opposition from their parents never entered their minds. They would meet together of a Sunday afternoon, and walk by the river side. They would meet and talk over the gate as Tite passed and re-passed Chapman's house. And Mattie was sure to meet him at the gate as he passed on his way to New York. And then there would be an affectionate good-bye, and Mattie would watch him until he had disappeared beyond the hill. The ordinary observer would have seen in Tite's blushes and confused manner, whenever he met Mattie, how the current of his love was setting. And when he returned at the end of the week there was something for Mattie, some little token of his affection; a proof that he had cherished her in his thoughts while absent.
This little love affair did not fail to attract the attention of the Chapman family. Nor was honest Hanz Toodleburg indifferent to what was going on. Indeed, the gossips at the inn had joked Hanz about it, hinting at a future connection of the two families. To all of which Hanz would reply that Tite was only a boy yet, and had a good deal of other kinds of business to do before thinking of what sort of a wife he wanted. "If ta torter ish like ta fader, sho quarrelsome, t'man what gets her for a vife don't lives in t'house mit her," Hanz would always conclude.
Young as Tite was, he began to look on the matter seriously. The whaling voyage was still exciting his ambition, however, and he began to enquire of every one he thought likely to know, when the people of Hudson would send their first ship to the South Sea. Then the thought of leaving Mattie would depress his spirits, and for a time shake his resolution. The trouble with him at first was how he could separate from his parents; now his love for Mattie was added to his obstacles.
Chapman had not failed to notice this little affair of the affections between the young people. He had noticed, also, that it had attracted the attention of his wife. But neither had spoken of it. In short, Chapman was anxious to have his wife refer to it first, to see in what light she viewed it. And Mrs. Chapman was equally anxious to have her dear husband, as she called him, express an opinion on the subject before she gave one. He had once or twice noticed that when the young people were at the gate she would call Mattie and tell her it was time to come in; that she ought not to stay there so long talking to a sailor-boy. Mattie would yield obedience with blushes and an air of reluctance, the meaning of which her mother properly understood.
The truth of the matter was that the affair had engaged Chapman's thoughts for some time; and it suddenly occurred to him that the whole thing might be turned to profit. Toodleburg was a man of some consequence among the people; they had great confidence in his integrity, and implicitly believed him possessed of a secret that would make the fortune of every man in Nyack. He had been evolving that secret in his mind for some time, and if he could in any way get the confidence of Hanz, and obtain the secret, or allow himself to be used in connection with it, he could make money enough to live like a lord in New York. And that was exactly what Mrs. Chapman wanted. The good woman, however, had been so much engaged of late getting the new church on its legs, and negotiating for the services of the Reverend Warren Holbrook, of Dogtown, Massachusetts, who was to spread the doctrines of transcendentalism, and a variety of other isms, before the people, and turn Nyack out of doors, religiously speaking, that she felt that she had not performed her whole duty towards Mattie.
There had been a religious tea-party at Chapman's house, where the affair of the new church had been talked over, and the opening day arranged. Mrs. Chapman was in her best dress, with a profusion of ribbons streaming down her back, and a puffy cap on her head. She had received a letter from the Reverend Warren Holbrook, accepting the offer of three hundred dollars a year and board and washing, and saying, that in addition to transcendentalism, he would advocate the equality of the great human family. If these poor, benighted Dutch people who lived about Nyack would only be regenerated and made progressive. Mrs. Chapman found great consolation in this letter, and sat down to read it to her dear husband, who had moved up nearer to the lamp and opened the last great-work on the new doctrine.
When she had finished reading it she paused for a moment, and then spoke. "Have you noticed, my dear," she enquired, and again hesitating, "what has been going on between our Mattie—?" Again she hesitated.
Expecting what was coming, Chapman interposed by saying, "Don't be afraid to speak, my darling; I know what you mean."
"I meant," resumed Mrs. Chapman, blushing and looking very serious, "I meant, have you noticed the attention that sailor-boy—(young Toodlebug did you call him?) horrors! what a name—was paying to our Mattie?"
"Burg, my dear, not bug," rejoined Chapman.
"People are beginning to talk about it, and they say such things!" The good woman blushed, and assumed an air of great seriousness. "The young man may be well enough, but then the Toodlebugs are only a common Dutch family."
"Toodleburgs, my dear, not bugs. The name makes a great difference with some people," rejoined Chapman, correctively. "Very natural, my dear, very natural. The most natural thing in the world for young people to make love. And the most natural thing in the world is that people should talk about it. It is according to the principles of true philosophy. You must not be alarmed, my dear, when you see young people make love. Harm rarely comes of it, and it generally ends in a very small affair."
"Yes, my dear," replied the good woman, "and experience has proved to me that it sometimes ends in a very large affair. A little flirtation between young people—"
"Should be encouraged, my darling," interrupted Chapman.
"I was going to say," she continued, "was not objectionable. But when looks come to be serious, the equality of things should be enquired into. Time's a coming when we may be rich, and live in New York, and be somebody, and move with the best of people. I looks forward to it, my dear; and I am sure the enterprises we have on hand will be a success. It will never do to marry our daughter to a sailor-boy, to say nothing of connecting ourselves to a common Dutch family—"
"You talk like a philosopher, my darling; but I have known worse things done, and great results flow from them. That young man promises well, and as for old Hanz, he is a man of more importance than you think. Some of these Dutch people are slow, but solid," rejoined Chapman, shutting up the book. "I have an object in view, and this little, innocent flirtation may help to improve it. At least, it can do no harm."
"It is not good to let anything go on that might lead to harm," resumed the good woman. "Mattie has good looks, and I intend that she shall have a polished education, and shine in society some day. You have always agreed with me, my dear, that it was good to look forward. How could Mattie shine in society with such a husband, and such a name? The very name of Toodlebug would sink us. Yes, my dear, sink us right down—"
"Wrong again, my dear; Tutle-burg. You may put an e in it instead of an r, if you please. That's where the difference is," interrupted Chapman.
"I don't care, my dear; these polite people would turn up their noses, and get it Too-dle-bug. They are very nice on names. If the young man should get up in the world and keep a carriage, people would say 'there goes Too-dle-bug's carriage—oh! what a name. What low people they must have been.' If they should own a house in the fashionable part of the city. We should both look forward to that, you know. Would'nt it be a horrid name to read on the door? Toodlebug!"
"Tutle-burg, my dear; there's a big difference," interposed Mr. Chapman.
"As you says; but nice people would not pronounce it except with a bug," continued the good woman, looking discomfitted. "You have given so much time to progress and reforming the world, that you don't understand these matters as well as I do. I am sure there would be blushes and smiles enough over such a name. Think of our daughter being Mrs. Toodlebug, (I pronounce it with a b-u-g, you see,) and inviting nice people to her reception. There would be people enough at that reception to make light of the name. Yes, Mr. Chapman, you might as well have her married to a Mr. Straddlebug. It's so very vulgar, my dear."
"As to that," replied Chapman, "the world is a great vulgarity, and only puts on politeness for appearance sake. The young man might have his name changed, or he might add something to it to soften it. How would you like Von Toodleburg, my dear?"
"Never can be softened; never! The Von would do something to lift a family up into respectability. And then, socially speaking, there was such a wide difference between them distinguished Dutch families and them common Dutch families."
"What would you have me do about it, darling?" enquired Chapman, submissively.
"Oppose it, my dear!" replied Mrs. Chapman, bowing, and becoming earnest. "Oppose it. You know how to oppose everything, and surely you can oppose this."
This reply troubled Chapman considerably. He had for once found something he would rather encourage than oppose. But he had a motive for his action, as will be seen hereafter.
THE TOWN MOVED WITH INDIGNATION.
It was less than a week after the scenes we have described in the foregoing chapter took place, that the good sloop Heinrich arrived, having made her weekly voyage to New York and back. A small, ill-favored man, with a very long red beard, and very long red hair, might have been seen stepping ashore, with a book and an umbrella under his arm, and wending his way up the lane, followed by Tite, carrying a corpulent carpet-bag. There was a combative air about the little man, who stared with a pair of small, fierce eyes, through a pair of glaring spectacles at every one he met. He was dressed in a shabby black suit, that hung loosely on his lean figure. This, with a broad, rolling collar, a pair of russet brogans, and a common straw hat, turned up at one side, completed his wardrobe, and gave an odd appearance to the man. Indeed, the gentleman had no taste for the vanities of the world, and parted his hair in the middle to save trouble. The ordinary observer might easily have mistaken him for a school-master out of employment and in distress. That such a man was to upset the settled opinions of a big town, few persons would have believed. Such, however, was this odd-looking little man's mission, and there was no end of new ideas contained in that little bumpy forehead of his.
The new arrival was the much-expected Reverend Warren Holbrook, from Dogtown last. As I have said before, he looked askance and inquisitively at every one he met as he walked up the lane. He bowed, too, and had a smile for all the females; then he enquired the name and condition of those who lived in each house he came to—how many children they had, and whether they were boys or girls. Now he paused and rested on his umbrella when he had reached a bit of high ground, and gazed over Nyack generally, and then over the Tappan Zee. Here was the new field of the great labors before him. How often he had taken Dogtown by the neck and shaken her up severely. The day might come when he would have to take Nyack by the neck and give her a good shaking up, morally and religiously. Mrs. Chapman had written him to say that Nyack was a bad place, secularly and otherwise.
The whole Chapman family (including the big dog) was out at the door to welcome the stranger; and such a warm greeting as he got. Mrs. Chapman assured him that the best in the house had been prepared for him, and that she had got the town in a state of great anxiety to see him. To tell the truth, this busy, bustling woman had been blowing a noisy trumpet for him in advance, and enlisting a large amount of female sympathy by stating that he was preeminent as an advocate of woman's rights in all things.
Of course the Reverend Warren Holbrook's arrival soon got noised over Nyack, and the female mind was in a state of great agitation. Before bed-time a number of curious and somewhat aged women dropped in to pay their respects to the gentleman, and see for themselves what this man of great natural gifts, who was to reform all Nyack and the world generally, was like.
There was one member of the Chapman family, however, not pleased with the way things were going, and that was Mattie. When the older Chapmans had taken their guest into the house, she embraced the opportunity to have a talk with Tite, and reproached him for what she had seen him do.
"Now, Tite," said she, looking earnestly into his face, "if you have any respect for me, never walk behind a man, carrying his carpet-bag—never! And such a looking man as that! You are as good as he, or anybody else, and if you don't think yourself so, other people wont think so for you. Never think you are not as good as somebody. Don't act as a help for anybody, for if you do you will be set down for nobody all your life."
At first Tite hardly knew what to say in reply. The nature of the rebuke showed the deep interest Mattie felt in him. "If I had taken pay," said Tite, hesitating, "'twould have been different. I carried his carpet-bag, I know, but then I did it as a favor; and, as you saw, declined to take the sixpence he offered me. But I'll do as you say, Mattie, and won't do so again; for I want to please you, you know." The words fell nervously from Tite's lips, and there was a throbbing at the heart he could not suppress.
"My mother," resumed Mattie, in a frank, girlish manner, "brought this man Warren Holbrook into the house at Dogtown, and he got father into such a deal of trouble. He was always quarrelling with somebody. He got up a disturbance in the church. And then the church all went to pieces. Oh, what a church it was! And mother thinks he's such a nice man. I don't. Don't carry his carpet-bag again, Tite. Don't make a menial of yourself for anybody." After saying this she walked part of the way home with Tite, and then they parted with a sweet good-night.
The following day being Sunday, and the Reverend Warren Holbrook having brought several prepared sermons with him, service was held in the new church at the regular morning hour. The women gathered in great numbers, and nearly filled the church; and the odd appearance of the little man, as he took his place in the pulpit, was a subject of general remark.
His sermon, I may here state, was one of the most singular and pyrotechnical ever preached in Nyack. He began by saying that Christ had risen, and was with them in person. He had come to Nyack, he added, to tell the truth and preach to sinners, for he understood the devil had had things his own way for a long time in the town; and he understood also there were sinners enough in Nyack to sink it. The world had reached a stage of wickedness when it needed reforming. It must be reformed, or it would sink under the weight of its wickedness. People were getting rich, and with great riches there always came pride and wickedness. He continued in this strain for nearly an hour, mixing up transcendentalism, rationalism, unitarianism, and a number of other isms, so unartistically as to astonish and confound his audience, and give his hearers something to talk about for a week.
Then he suddenly broke away from his disputed points, as he called them, and took up the subject of woman's wrongs. "My hearers," said he, pausing and pointing upward with the fore-finger of his right hand, "What would the world be without woman? From the very beginning of the world she has been the victim of wrong, great wrong. Man has sinned against her by making her his inferior. God never intended that she should be the inferior of man. He never would have created her with a form so beautiful, and a voice so soft and musical, if he had not intended her for man's superior. And the day will come, and come soon, too, when she will have her rights, and her voice will be heard in the government of the nation. The angel that she is! Woman is a great power. She has made kings and conquerors, and she can unmake them. She has influenced the acts of statesmen, and made children of grave Senators. Yes, my hearers, her power can be made greater than the throne. And yet how few husbands appreciate their wives as they should do." Here the reverend gentleman paused for a few seconds, and cast meaning glances at several of his male hearers, who were evidently not inclined to receive his remarks with favor. Indeed, Mr. Holbrook, while making a high bid for popularity with the female portion of his audience, was throwing an immense fire-brand into the family circle of a number of his hearers.
"My hearers, remember this," resumed this odd little man: "Manage a woman right, and you have a mighty power to carry out the greatest project the world ever saw."
Disjointed and illogical as this sermon was, it was just what Chapman and Mrs. Chapman wanted to put the church of the new ideas firm on its legs. It was popular with the women; and with their favor Holbrook could ride triumphantly over any number of quarrels.
Mrs. Chapman intimated to another admiring female that the little man they had just listened to was very like an oyster—looked better when opened. In short, it was the general opinion of the women that Mr. Holbrook had preached a very sensible sermon; and they were delighted, notwithstanding what their husbands said to the contrary. "We have got a preacher now," said the women, "who will stick up for our rights. You men have had it all your own way long enough." Some of the men, however, were not inclined to let these taunts pass quietly, declaring that they had never listened to such nonsense before. One shook his head, and declared that no good could come of such preaching, since there was no true religion in it. Another snapped his fingers, saying the man was not only a fool, but a mischief-maker. A third said all the trouble in the world had been made by just such meddlesome men. The church of great moral ideas might be a good enough church for some people; but such a preacher as this made more infidels than honest men.
The whole town soon got into a dispute as to whether the Reverend Warren Holbrook was a wise and good man, or simply a mischief-making egotist. The women took the side of Holbrook, and stuck to it, like true women. He preached the right sort of religion, they said, and was a wise and good man, or he could not preach as he did. The men did not believe a word of it, but seeing that their wives were inclined to have it all their own way, and would not hear a word against the new preacher, quietly submitted, as men generally do. That is to say, they surrendered their authority.
Chapman was delighted at the nice little turn his preacher had made in the affairs of the town. Nothing pleased him better than to have a dozen disputes on hand at a time. If only well nursed they could be all made profitable. Woman was the great pillar of Chapman's hopes. He had always regarded her as the great foundation of any church. She could make it popular if she pleased, and she could make it profitable, too. This, in a measure, accounted for the unlimited admiration Mrs. Chapman had for this great progressive clergyman. His great progressive religion was just exactly the thing needed in Nyack. He must next attack the Dominie, and drive him out of his pulpit, for it would not do to have men preaching in an unknown tongue at this enlightened day.
In less than two months from the time this teacher of great progressive ideas landed at Nyack, he had not only got the town by the ears, but so divided his flock that it was now composed almost exclusively of women. The men stayed at home and nursed their wrath. And it was good for them that they did, for the women had things all their own way generally, and Warren Holbrook, ill-favored and formed, was their idol. The pew rents ran up, however, and the contributions of a Sunday increased nearly double. Indeed, the Chapmans felt that they were now on the road to fortune, and Mrs. Chapman's ambition increased accordingly.
All great enterprises, however, are liable to sudden checks, and misfortune too often comes when one least expects it. And so it was with the Reverend Warren Holbrook, the man of the great progressive ideas. He was discovered paying what ladies of strict propriety regard as more than ordinary attentions to a fair young damsel, the daughter of one of the most active members of the church—a woman who had carried her head high, and was so much given to wearing more finery than her neighbors that the few friends she had were always ready to say ill-natured things of her. The young woman was ready enough to embrace matrimony at any moment; but the attentions she received from the reverend gentleman caused great distress among a number of other young women of his church. It was agreed among them that the reverend gentleman was neither fascinating nor handsome, but he had mind, and was smart. Smart was the thing a man most needed in a New England village.
I have said before that the mother of this damsel carried a high head, as well in as out of the church. She seemed also to have more rights than ordinary females, and would give herself a great deal of unnecessary trouble in asserting them, so much so that many of her less strong-handed sisters regarded her with fear. The gentleman's attentions had not progressed far when it was evident to all attentive observers that there must soon be a split in the female division of his church. Indeed, the quarrel in the female division of the church of the great progressive ideas was waged with great fierceness, and had such a number of nice little scandals mixed up in it as to make it quite interesting to people of a contemplative turn of mind.
Every meddlesome old woman in the church must put her finger in the reverend gentleman's love pie, and would speak her mind plainly enough, especially if she had daughters of her own. To use the poor man's own language, he found himself spiked on all sides; and all for love, a thing which has brought no end of mischief on the world. In short, from being an idol he found himself between fires that threatened to consume him, so fiercely did they burn.
The gentleman's position was indeed becoming perilous, when an unforeseen circumstance afforded him the means of relief. There arrived in Nyack late one Saturday night, a man of tall, slender figure, dressed in a suit of plain black, and having the appearance of a young clergyman just from the country. He put up at Titus Bright's inn, gave out that he was from Dogtown, Massachusetts, and after partaking of supper, enquired of the landlord where he could find the Reverend, so to speak, Warren Holbrook. There was something serious in the man's manner, like one who had been grievously wronged. Being told where he could find the object of his search, he paced the room thoughtfully for a few minutes, then muttered to himself, "I must see him to-night. The sooner settled the better. It will not do to wait until morning."
Half an hour later, and the two reverend gentlemen (the stranger and Holbrook) might have been seen seated at a table in a room of Chapman's house. Their conversation had evidently not been of a very pleasant nature, for the stranger, rising to take his departure, said: "You have only to do her justice, and show to the world that you are an honorable man. She is my sister; and unless you keep your promise, solemnly made to her, I will follow you to the end of the earth, and make you the scorned of men. Mark this well: it is the haunted soul of the hypocrite that burns him through life; that makes him a very torment to himself." The stranger returned to the inn, where he paced the room for nearly an hour, and then retired for the night.
The bells rang on the following morning, and the good women of Nyack wended their way to and had nearly filled every pew in the church of great progressive ideas. The choir sung one hymn, and then sung another. But no pastor came. There was something wrong, evidently. Hope and faith were enjoined by a few. Some watched the door, others the pulpit. Whispers succeeded wonder, and murmurs took the place of curiosity. The church was clearly without a pastor; and what was a church to do under such circumstances? At length the whole congregation got into a state of profound agitation. What was the matter? where was the pastor? would'nt somebody speak? These and similar questions were on every tongue. It was suddenly discovered that the Chapmans were also absent.
An indignant female got up and proposed that some one "go for" the Chapmans, and make them explain what it all meant. Another, equally indignant, took a more sensible view of things. "If there's to be no service," said she, "I'm going home to read my Bible in quiet." And she left the church, followed by the rest of the congregation. And as nobody explained, of course every one had his or her own reason for this singular turn in the spiritual affairs of the new church. There was no getting over the fact that the new church had been brought to a stand still. To be plain about the matter, the Reverend Warren Holbrook had put his great progressive ideas into practice during the night by leaving the town, and also by taking with him the young woman to whom he had been paying such marked attentions. The Tappan Zee had never been more troubled in a storm than was the moral sensibilities of Nyack at this news. The very atmosphere was rank with scandal. The men laughed and jeered, and the women shook their heads and talked of nothing else. "After that," said the women, "who can we trust."
"Served you right," replied the men, "for making much of such a fellow. Women never take such men into their confidence without bringing dirty water to their own doors." It was fortunate for Holbrook that he left during the night, for, seeing the temper Nyack was in during that day, there would have been some stones thrown had he remained.
The Chapmans took the matter very cool, however, counted the profits, and put up the church shutters. Such things had happened before, Chapman said. It was a weakness that had marked the history of the world; and it had been a failing with the greatest of intellects. They would yet show to the people of Nyack what could be done with the right sort of enterprise. The honest old Dutchmen were in high glee over the turn affairs at the new church had taken. They got together in Hanz Toodleburg's veranda, drank their beer, and smoked their pipes, and wished the devil might get the new preacher, "what comes t'down to raise t'tevil mit de peoples, and raises t'tevil mit he self."
The stranger, of whom mention has been made, was more seriously troubled. He heard the news of Holbrook's departure with a sad heart, for he was the kind brother of a young woman to whom the delinquent had made a solemn vow to marry. But that solemn vow he had recently broken in the most heartless manner, and left her hopes blighted and her heart sad. He declared, however, that he would follow Holbrook if he went to the end of the earth, and bring him to justice before God and man.
TITE TAKES HIS DEPARTURE FOR THE SOUTH SEA.
High above all this hypocrisy, this intrigue, this selfishness and dissimulation, there was something more pure and good. It was love, pure and simple, binding the thoughts and hearts of Mattie Chapman and young Tite. That love which forgets everything else in its truth and purity, had been gently binding their young affections together. And now nothing could separate them.
What sweet joys and touching sorrows are mingled with the wonderful history of love. How surely it marks its objects. It seeks its most precious captive in the strongest and bravest of hearts. Love has dethroned kings, built up empires, set great nations at war, and made statesmen weep with sorrow. Yea, it has made the mightiest to unbend, and brought them bowing before its altar. It holds its capricious empire in every heart, prompts our ambition, guides and governs our actions, makes us heroes or cowards, and carries us hoping through the world.
It was love, then, that was holding its court on the occasion I am about to describe. It was one of those bright and breezy spring mornings, when Nature seems to have decked herself in her brightest colors, giving such a charm to the banks of the Hudson. The young, fresh leaves were out, and looking so green and crisp. The leak and the moss were creeping afresh over the rocks; wild flowers were budding and blossoming, and giving their sweet odors to the wind; birds were singing their touching songs; brooks rippled and murmured their mysterious music; and all Nature was indeed putting forth her beauties in one grand, sweet, soul-stirring harmony.
How I envy the being who, free from the cares of the world, can elevate his soul by holding sweet communion with nature, at spring time. Earth has nothing so pure as the thoughts inspired by such sweet communion with the buds, the blossoms, and the flowers of spring.
It was one of these soft, breezy mornings in early spring, I have said, that Mattie and Tite sat together in a little clump of woods, where the branches formed a sort of bower overhead, and overlooking the Tappan Zee. Every few minutes Tite would get up, advance to a point commanding a view of the river above, and gaze intently in that direction, as if expecting some object of interest.
"She is not in sight yet, Mattie," he said, as he returned after one of these intervals. "But she will be down to-day, I know she will, and then we must part. Think of me when I am away, and I will think of you. Yes, Mattie, I am only a sailor now, but I shall see the world, and that's what I want, because it will make me something better. It will be three years before we meet again; three long, long years. But I will think of you and dream of you through all that time. And I will be so happy when the day of our meeting comes. Be good to my mother and father while I am gone. Be good to them for my sake. You will, won't you, Mattie?"
Mattie's blue eyes filled with tears, the wind tossed her golden curls over her fair neck and shoulders, and there was something so tender and touching in the picture of these young lovers. "I have made you a solemn promise, Tite," she replied, in broken accents. "That promise shall be kept sacred. I shall think of you, and pray for you. Your parents shall be my parents. I will count the days until you return." She paused for a moment and wiped her eyes. "Neither storm nor tempest shall trouble you, Tite, for I will follow you with my prayers that God may carry you safe through all dangers, and bring you safe back to us. But, Tite, take this advice from me. Do all you can for yourself. Rise as high as you can; make all the money you can; and don't forget what we may come to be. People who get money, and take care of it, are sure to rise in the world. People that don't get money never do. But, God bless you, Tite; think of me and I'll think of you." This advice to the young sailor to make all the money he could, and given on the eve of departure, may seem out of place to some of my romantic readers; but it was, perhaps, the best Mattie could have given him. She was a girl of strong affections, and it was only natural that she should have something of the propensity so strong in both her parents. But beyond and above this there was something frank and generous, something of real good in her nature. Young as she was, she saw in Tite's courage and ambition traits of character that promised well for the future. This made her forget that which was so objectionable to her mother—that he was only the son of common Dutch people.
Tite had been looking for the object of his anxiety several minutes, when, turning toward Mattie, he exclaimed: "Here she comes! here she comes!" and they kissed and took an affectionate farewell, each hastening to their homes. The object he had watched for so intently was the ship Pacific, belonging to the Hudson Company's fleet of whale ships, and bound on a voyage to the South Sea, as it was called in those days. There was something grand and imposing about this fine old ship as she moved majestically down the stream, her starboard tacks aboard, the breeze filling her sails so nicely, for she had her royals set. Then her new, white canvas contrasted so strikingly with the green hills that yet shut her hull from view. Who could tell what might befall her in the eventful voyage she was bound on?
A few minutes more and she braced her yards sharp and rounded the point, and stood on her way down the Tappan Zee. Every outline of her hull now came clearer and clearer. There were her heavy quarter-davits, her hoisting gear, and whale-killing gear; her long, sharp boats, lashed so carefully, some to her davits, others athwart her quarter-deck frames; and about all of which there was a mysterious interest. These whale ships were at that day an object of distrust in the minds of the honest Dutchmen along the banks of the Hudson, who never saw them go to sea without shaking their heads and predicting all sorts of disasters, such as would be sure to bring ruin on the men unwise enough to risk their money in such enterprises.
As the ship neared Nyack a group of ten or a dozen persons were seen near the landing, with a boat and two men to take Tite off. There was Hanz, old and grey; and Angeline, her eyes filled with tears, but her face as full of sweetness and tenderness as it was twenty years ago. Tite had been the joy and hope of her life. And now he was going to leave home and sail to the other side of the world, among strange people, and would have to brave dangers of the worst kind.
There, too, was Doctor Critchel, and the good Dominie, and Titus Bright, the inn-keeper; the first wearing his old brown coat, and looking as snuffy as on the stormy night when he assisted in bringing Tite into the world. They had all come to see Tite off, to say God speed, and to give him some little token of their affection to carry with him on his voyage after whales.
And now that time which so tries a mother's heart had come. "Good bye, mother, good bye, and may God be with you and protect you," said Tite, throwing his arms around his mother's neck, and kissing her wet cheek. "I will come back safe, and never go to sea again." Then he took leave of his father, and each of his friends in turn. In another minute the boat in which he stood waving his handkerchief was pulling swiftly toward the ship. There was not a dry eye in that little group as each figure in it stood gazing out upon the calm waters, and watching the object so dear to the hearts of all in it. And now the boat has reached the ship, men are seen in the gangway, a line was thrown to the men in the boat, the ship luffed a little, and in another moment Tite mounted the ladder and was on deck. The first officer welcomed him, for there was something in his appearance that indicated respectability and true character; and his ship-mates gathered about him, each giving him a warm shake of the hand and a friendly word. Then the good ship moved gallantly down the stream, and Tite appeared on the forecastle, and waved adieus until she disappeared among the green hills of the Palisades.