The Heer Antony, too, grew chirping and joyous; told half-a-dozen fat stories, at which his white followers laughed immoderately, though the Indians, as usual, maintained an invincible gravity.
“This is your true life, my boy!” said he, slapping Dolph on the shoulder; “a man is never a man till he can defy wind and weather, range woods and wilds, sleep under a tree, and live on bass-wood leaves!”
And then would he sing a stave or two of a Dutch drinking song, swaying a short squab Dutch bottle in his hand, while his myrmidons would join in chorus, until the woods echoed again;—as the good old song has it:
“They all with a shout made the
So soon as the office was o’er;
To feasting they went with true merriment.
And tippled strong liquor gillore.”
In the midst of his jovialty, however, Heer Antony did not lose sight of discretion. Though he pushed the bottle without reserve to Dolph, yet he always took care to help his followers himself, knowing the beings he had to deal with; and he was particular in granting but a moderate allowance to the Indians. The repast being ended, the Indians having drunk their liquor and smoked their pipes, now wrapped themselves in their blankets, stretched themselves on the ground with their feet to the fire, and soon fell asleep, like so many tired hounds. The rest of the party remained chatting before the fire, which the gloom of the forest, and the dampness of the air from the late storm, rendered extremely grateful and comforting. The conversation gradually moderated from the hilarity of supper-time, and turned upon hunting adventures, and exploits and perils in the wilderness; many of which were so strange and improbable, that I will not venture to repeat them, lest the veracity of Antony Vander Heyden and his comrades should be brought into question. There were many legendary tales told, also, about the river, and the settlements on its borders; in which valuable kind of lore, the Heer Antony seemed deeply versed. As the sturdy bush-beater sat in the twisted root of a tree, that served him for a kind of arm-chair, dealing forth these wild stories, with the fire gleaming on his strongly-marked visage, Dolph was again repeatedly perplexed by something that reminded him of the phantom of the haunted house; some vague resemblance, that could not be fixed upon any precise feature or lineament, but which pervaded the general air of his countenance and figure.
The circumstance of Dolph’s falling overboard being again discussed, led to the relation of divers disasters and singular mishaps that had befallen voyagers on this great river, particularly in the earlier periods of colonial history; most of which the Heer deliberately attributed to supernatural causes. Dolph stared at this suggestion; but the old gentleman assured him that it was very currently believed by the settlers along the river, that these highlands were under the