Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 422 pages of information about Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete.

Now so it happened, that among his officers was a sturdy veteran named Keldermeester, who had cherished, through a long life, a mop of hair not a little resembling the shag of a Newfoundland dog, terminating in a queue like the handle of a frying-pan, and queued so tightly to his head that his eyes and mouth generally stood ajar, and his eyebrows were drawn up to the top of his forehead.  It may naturally be supposed that the possessor of so goodly an appendage would resist with abhorrence an order condemning it to the shears.  On hearing the general orders, he discharged a tempest of veteran, soldier-like oaths, and dunder and blixums—­swore he would break any man’s head who attempted to meddle with his tail—­queued it stiffer than ever, and whisked it about the garrison as fiercely as the tail of a crocodile.

The eelskin queue of old Keldermeester became instantly an affair of the utmost importance.  The commander-in-chief was too enlightened an officer not to perceive that the discipline of the garrison, the subordination and good order of the armies of the Nieuw-Nederlands, the consequent safety of the whole province, and ultimately the dignity and prosperity of their High Mightinesses the Lords States General, imperiously demanded the docking of that stubborn queue.  He decreed, therefore, that old Keldermeester should be publicly shorn of his glories in presence of the whole garrison—­the old man as resolutely stood on the defensive-whereupon he was arrested and tried by a court-martial for mutiny, desertion, and all the other list of offences noticed in the articles of war, ending with a “videlicet, in wearing an eelskin queue, three feet long, contrary to orders.”  Then came on arraignments, and trials, and pleadings; and the whole garrison was in a ferment about this unfortunate queue.  As it is well known that the commander of a frontier post has the power of acting pretty much after his own will, there is little doubt but that the veteran would have been hanged or shot at least, had he not luckily fallen ill of a fever, through mere chagrin and mortification—­and deserted from all earthly command, with his beloved locks unviolated.  His obstinacy remained unshaken to the very last moment, when he directed that he should be carried to his grave with his eelskin queue sticking out of a hole in his coffin.

This magnanimous affair obtained the general great credit as a disciplinarian; but it is hinted that he was ever afterwards subject to bad dreams and fearful visitations in the night, when the grizzly spectrum of old Keldermeester would stand sentinel by his bedside, erect as a pump, his enormous queue strutting out like the handle.


   [46] Ballad of Dragon of Wantley.




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Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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