“Twould give grave offence to leave the lady, without knowing all she has to say. The answer now concerns you, worthy Alderman; and the rattan will do its turn, in your hand, as well as in that of another.”
“I despise a pitiful curiosity, and content myself with knowing what chance and good luck teach,” returned Myndert. “There are men in Manhattan ever prying into their neighbors’ credit, like frogs lying with their noses out of water; but it is enough for me to know the state of my books, with some insight into that of the market.”
“It will not do.—This may appease a quiet conscience, like your own, Sir; but we of the brigantine may not trifle with our mistress. One touch of the rattan will tell you, whether these visits to the Water Witch are likely to prove to your advantage.”
Myndert wavered. It has been said, that, like most others of his origin in the colony, he had a secret leaning to the art of divination: and the words of the hero of the shawl contained a flattering allusion to the profits of his secret commerce. He took the offered stick, and, by the time the page was turned, his eyes were ready enough to consult its contents. There was but a line, which was also quoted as coming from the well-known comedy of ‘Measure for Measure.’
“Proclaim it, Provost, round about the city.”
In his eagerness Myndert read the oracle aloud, and then he sunk into his seat, affecting to laugh at the whole as a childish and vain conceit.
“Proclamation, me, no proclamations! Is it a time of hostilities, or of public danger, that one should go shouting with his tidings through the streets? Measure for Measure, truly! Harkee, Master Tiller, this sea-green trull of thine is no better than she should be; and unless she mends her manner of dealing, no honest man will be found willing to be seen in her company. I am no believer in necromancy—though the inlet has certainly opened this year, altogether in an unusual manner—and therefore I put little faith in her words; but as for saying aught of me or mine, in town or country, Holland or America, that can shake my credit, why I defy her! Still, I would not willingly have any idle stories to contradict; and I shall conclude by saying, you will do well to stop her mouth.”
“Stop a hurricane, or a tornado! Truth will come in her book, and he that reads must expect to see it—Captain Ludlow, you are master of your movements, again; for the inlet is no longer between you and your cruiser. Behind yon hillock is the boat and crew you missed. The latter expect you. And now, gentlemen, we leave the rest to the green lady’s guidance, our own good skill, and the winds! I salute you.”
The moment his companions were on the shore, the hero of the shawl caused his boat to quit it; and in less than five minutes it was seen swinging, by its tackles, at the stern of the brigantine.