This missive was intrusted to his trumpeter and squire, Anthony Van Corlear, that man of emergencies, with orders to travel night and day, sparing neither whip nor spur, seeing that he carried the vindication of his patron’s fame in his saddle-bags. The loyal Anthony accomplished his mission with great speed and considerable loss of leather. He delivered his missive with becoming ceremony, accompanying it with a flourish of defiance on his trumpet to the whole council, ending with a significant and nasal twang full in the face of Captain Partridge, who nearly jumped out of his skin in an ecstasy of astonishment.
The grand council was composed of men too cool and practical to be put readily in a heat, or to indulge in knight-errantry, and above all to run a tilt with such a fiery hero as Peter the Headstrong. They knew the advantage, however, to have always a snug, justifiable cause of war in reserve with a neighbor who had territories worth invading; so they devised a reply to Peter Stuyvesant, calculated to keep up the “raw” which they had established.
On receiving this answer, Anthony Van Corlear remounted the Flanders mare which he always rode, and trotted merrily back to the Manhattoes, solacing himself by the way according to his wont; twanging his trumpet like a very devil, so that the sweet valleys and banks of the Connecticut, resounded with the warlike melody; bringing all the folks to the windows as he passed through Hartford and Pyquag and Middletown, and all the other border towns; ogling and winking at the women, and making aerial windmills from the end of his nose at their husbands; and stopping occasionally in the villages to eat pumpkin-pies, dance at country frolics, and bundle with the Yankee lasses, whom he rejoiced exceedingly with his soul-stirring instrument.
The reply of the grand council to Peter Stuyvesant was couched in the coolest and most diplomatic language. They assured him that “his confident denials of the barbarous plot alleged against him would weigh little against the testimony of divers sober and respectable Indians;” that “his guilt was proved to their perfect satisfaction,” so that they must still require and seek due satisfaction and security; ending with—“so we rest, sir—Yours in ways of righteousness.”
I forbear to say how the lion-hearted Peter roared and ramped at finding himself more and more entangled in the meshes thus artfully drawn round him by the knowing Yankees. Impatient, however, of suffering so gross an aspersion to rest upon his honest name, he sent a second messenger to the council, reiterating his denial of the treachery imputed to him, and offering to submit his conduct to the scrutiny of a court of honor. His offer was readily accepted; and now he looked forward with confidence to an august tribunal to be assembled at the Manhattoes, formed of high-minded cavaliers, peradventure governors and commanders of the confederate plantations, where the matter might be investigated by his peers in a manner befitting his rank and dignity.