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against their faces. They were assailed with ravenous musquitoes not the degenerate, attenuated musquitoes which in these days are wafted over from the Bergen meadows, to suck the blood of our plump citizens—but gigantic gallinipers, with a note like that of a hautboy, and a proboscis that could penetrate a water-proof boot. Whether there was really anything supernatural in this relentless foray of the musquitoes, or whether it was owing to the fact of their voracity not being appeased in those days, as it is in ours, by the weekly visits of the genial and juicy members of the Turtle Club to their dominions, is a subject I leave to the investigation of the learned entomologists of the Lyceum of Natural History
These fearful sights and sounds, and the stings and insults of the creatures of the air, at length exhausted the courage as well as the patience of the party. Now and then too, a straggler would be separated from the main body, and would call out for his friends in fearful tones, which sounded to them like demoniac yells. At last some grew mutinous, and called on the doctor to lead them back to the ferry. Their dauntless leader could not but allow the reasonableness of the request; for the intricacy of the interwisted branches of trees, the huge fragments of rocks, the brambles
and creeping vines, the slippery and deceitful heaps of leaves accumulated by many autumns, above all, the darkness of the woods, through whose canopy a solitary star ever and anon shot a slanting, broken ray—all this made dreadful distraction in the ranks. A halt was ordered, and the party gradually collected. A deep silence came over them, and as they listened in awe to the mysterious whisperings of the breeze through the forest, the distant deep murmuring of the river, and the crackling of the dry leaves and branches under their feet, a deep dull sound, ten times repeated, was wafted to their ears by the east wind. It seemed a preternatural admonition of the late hour of night, for they had now wandered far and long. Meanwhile Dr. Magraw was administering to each of his Highlanders a comfortable dram of Farintosh, from a jug fastened to his belt, together with a double pinch of snuff out of his own mull, which refreshed and fortified them exceedingly; in both of these comforts the rest of the party expressed strong desires to participate, but the doctor resolutely refused them. Whether this partiality might not have produced overt acts of insubordination, notwithstanding the deep feeling of terror inspired by the scene and its associations, and the awful respect entertained for the doctor, I cannot pre
tend to say. But all of a sudden, a wild and shrill sound arose upon their ears, from the woods to the south. It was an irregular chant, partaking of the solemn and the queer; a mixture of Old Hundred and Yankee Doodle, interspersed with squeaks and squalls. But ever and anon it swelled to a beautiful andante movement, in E major, which soon changed to a spirited allegro in the minor of that key, in the course of which was introduced a fine crescendo worthy of Rossini. At one time, a beautiful chromatic passage was introduced, apparently without effort, in which the plaintive tones of an exquisite contraalto were heard, producing all the power which noises of that quality have, in moving the affections. Throughout the whole, the clamorous forte stood out in strong relief with its contrasting pianissimo.
The party proceeded onward, with many trips and stumblings, although fear produced something like regularity in their steps, towards that part of the woods whence this mysterious music seemed to come. They wound for some time above the brow of the hill, where the trees grew less thickly together, following the light of a tin lantern borne by one of the Highlanders. But the fitful dancing pencils of light served only as a beacon, without illuminating their path. The
gush of compound melody died away, not in a sadly pleasing fall; for, after the fine baritono had sunk into a sonorous basso, the strain rather basely tapered off short, with a screaming like the screech of a screech-owl, and then a smack like that of a coach whip. But as they advanced, a single voice was heard commencing a sort of incantation or hymn. Sometimes it was husky, sometimes rich and true and strong; but it was always full of learned melody, with a good slake, and beautiful appogiaturas, and threw of its roulades with wonderful rapidity and ease. The air was in 6-8 time; but an anomalous bar of three crotchets was introduced, and often repeated, which had a curious and unpleasing effect.*
Led by the sound, the doctor and his corps-degarde continued their progress, until a high perpendicular rock obstructed the path to the left of which they turned, and wound downwards towards the precipice. Here, after a short time, streaks of red light began to break through the
* This account of the demoniac music is from the MS. of Dr. De Ronda, who in his youth had been a great amateur of learned melodies, and had written critical notices of the Dutch opera at Rotterdam.
crevices of the grey stones, and gleam among the thickets, and as they turned short round the projection of a gigantic pile of granite, a singular and startling scene broke upon their gaze. Now, as to what follows, I must beg leave to state, that like Herodotus and Walter Scott, “ I tell the tale as 'twas told to me."
There are too many respectable attestations of the truth of the particulars handed down to us, to justify the explanation I have heard given, that the current story is a mere allegory, invented by Doctor Magraw. What I shall proceed to relate, not only accords with the received tradition, but with the formal account drawn up by Dominie De Ronda, and preserved in the archives of the Garden-street Dutch Church, where it may be seen on application to the pastor. It seems to me entitled to full credit from the air of historical candour and philosophical dignity with which it commences. The dominie says" Men moet de duivel een wassh-haars opsteeken,” or in English, “ We must give the devil his due.”
The picture, then, presented to the eyes of these crusaders, was strange, grotesque, and unnatural. In the centre of what looked like the nave of a sylvan amphitheatre, which descended, however, rather rapidly towards the river, there was a great fire of pine logs and knots blazing