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ed in the arm chair, at the corner of my father's fire, with his lack-lustre eyes fixed intently on vacuity, and puffing whole volleys of vapour, with the devotedness of a Mussulman. The predominant feature of Job's character was lazi
It was this which had caused him to squander away field after field, and acre after acre of his paternal estate, until it was all gone; by which means he was now left a pauper in his old age, and compelled to sponge upon the charity of his friends and relations for support.
My uncle had served in the army, during the revolution, and had become impressed with the belief, very prevalent at the time, of there having been great treasures buried in different parts of the country, at the commencement of the war, and left by the owners, who had perished during the subsequent troubles. Captain Kidd, too, it is well known, for want of a better place of security, used to deposit his superfluous cash in holes and nooks alongshore, and on the banks of rivers; (chartered banks not being as common in those days as they have since grown to be ;) and many a bag of doubloons, keg of dollars, and barrel of pistareens, has been discovered, or supposed to have been so, by industrious farmers, and lucky fishermen, who have suddenly become rich, beyond the comprehension of their indolent neighbours.
It was in search of these spoils that Job spent that part of his time which was actively employed in doing any thing. Thoughts of these hidden treasures used to fill his waking moments, his sleeping hours, and his long days of deep, drowsy meditation, in which it were difficult to say whether sleep or watchfulness predominated. But oh! what golden dreams, what'visions of glory, used to roll over my uncle in these reveries ! Ingots of gold, bars of silver, guineas, doubloons, dollars, and sixpences, would float around him in brilliant confusion, like the fantastic combinations of the kaleidoscope, and seem to invite him to stretch forth his hand and clutch them. Then would come dreams of personal aggrandizement ; of his old rusty suit exchanged for a superfine broadeloth coat, with plush breeches and silk stockings; and of his stumpy pipe metamorphosed into a genuine Holland hookar, with pouch and stopper complete. Then, too, would he seem to be surrounded by all the pleasant accompaniments of old age, as “ honour, love, obedience, troops of friends ;'' in which particulars it must be confessed my uncle Job, like Macbeth, was sadly deficient. But my uncle's premeditated bounty was not confined to himself alone : he had a kind and benevolent soul ; and his charity, though it began at home, as well it might, did by no means end there. Not only my father's family, and Job's relations to the twentieth degree were to be made rich and comfortable, but every poor body and idle vagabond in the country was to be a recipient of his largesse, and have bis heart made glad by the good things of this life. In short, the whole country was to be benefitted : villages were to be founded ; churches and taverns were to be built ; houses and barns, and blacksmiths' shops were to start into existence at his Promethean touch ; and ragged individuals were to have their persons made clean and whole, their pockets filled with small change, and their stomachs lined with good cheer from his exhaustless funds.
Such were Job's sangnine expectations; and with such great confidence and complacency did he discourse on these pleasant topics, that there were few of the subjects of his intended liberality who did not listen with satisfaction to his Utopian plans. I myself was partially affected by these ballucinations. And though my father would incredulously shake his head, and advise Job to go and plough the earth, if he ever wished to get any thing out of it, my youthful fancy was excited by his enthusiasm, and I too had my day dreams. Many a ride on an ambling pony did I take in anticipation; many a bird did I shoot with a double-barrelled fowling-piece, and many a pleasant sail did I take in a gallant little boat; all which my uncle, in the plenitude of his bounty, had promised me.
In order to find the golden mine that was to realize these glorious expectations, my uncle, every now and then shaking off his usual listlessness and aversion to every kind of labour, would sally forth, no one knew whither, with a pick-ax, spade, and bag, to bring home his expected windfalls. Frequently he would be gone a week, and then return hungry and fatigued, his boots and clothes loaded with dirt, but with his sack just as empty as when he left home.
His usual companion on these excursions was an old negro, named Toby, who had grown gray in the family. He had driven a baggage wagon during the revolution, and was as deeply versed in the stories and superstition of the times as my uncle. His age and long services, domestic as well as public, had rendered him a privileged character in the family, and though nominally a slave, he was to the full as free in his actions as any citizen of this happy land of liberty. He used to work when he pleased, eat when he pleased, and get drunk when he pleased ; and in truth, this latter amusement seemed to please him oftener than any other.
One morning, in particular, my uncle Job was observed to have an unusual air of intelligence in his countenance. His whole frame seemed big with something important, and he would frequently rise and walk about the room with unwonted alacrity. Then he would sit down, rub bis hands, stroke his chin, and puff out volleys of smoke with increased vigour. This continued till night-fall, when in company with Toby, with whom he had held frequent conversations through the day, and whom, it was observed, he had treated to a small glass of gin, he sallied forth from the house. Toby, laden with a large sack and shovel, followed close at the heels of my uncle, who carried a small hazel wand in his hand, and walked on at a prodigious rate.
It was a clear, calm evening, in the month of October. The sun had just set, and his last glowing rays were reflected with softened lustre from a few broken clouds which slumbered upon the horizon. The burning splendour of the western hemisphere gradually faded away, like the decaying glories of some mighty conflagration, till, at last, only a narrow gleam of brightness marked the spot where the orb of day had disappeared.
Little attention, I ween, did our two pedestrians pay to the beauties of nature. And the majestic oaks, tinged with the rich and variegated hues of autumn, which stretched their giant arms across the road, were as little heeded as the hum. ble rail-fence that crept at their feet. The path, which at first wound through a thick copse of wood, now emerged into an open plain, in a state of high cultivation, and studded here and there with farm-houses. At a distance, the Hudson rolled majestically along, sparkling in the rays of the full moon, which was just
, peeping over the eastern horizon.
My uncle Job now reached a high stone wall, which enclosed a spacious garden, appertaining to the farm-house of an old Dutchman, by the name of Van Dam. It was a rich and fertile spot; large patches of melons were interspersed with rows of luxuriant cabbages; the trees were laden with fruit; clusters of grapes hung in rich profusion from the vine; and the rose, the sweet briar, and the honey-suckle, wafted their perfumes to the air. But if this garden rivalled that of the Hesperides in beauty, it was guarded by a dragon as severe and terrible. The rib of the worthy Mynheer Van Dam was of that class of doubtful gender, denominated viragos. She was nearly six feet in height; of a most gorgon-like physiognomy; and as violent and furious in her temper as she was forbidVol. I. No. III.
ding in her person. She was usually accompanied by a huge dog, who had much of the crabbed temperament of his mistress : and such was the terror and aversion her appearance generally excited, that she was known far and near by the name of Dame Van Dam the damnable; a cognomination which some wicked wight, with more wit than grace, had bestowed upon her. The mirth and noisy glee of many a troop of marauding urchins were awed into silence by the unexpected appearance of Dame Van Dam. And every inordinate affection towards the tempting fruits, which peered over the garden wall in provoking luxuriance, was speedily repressed by the sour visage of their mistress.
Some uneasy sensation seemed to cross the mind of black Toby, as he saw my uncle preparing to cross this stone boundary, which had hitherto been the ultima thule of their perigrinations. Gently plucking my uncle by the sleeve, he besought him to desist, with an earnest and significant gesture; for it may be remarked, that the strictest silence was one of the rules observed by our adventurers on their excursions. My uncle seemed impatient at this interference, and, with a threatening aspect, motioned him to follow. Toby obeyed with fear and trembling ; but his knees smote each other beneath him, and he turned pale as his black face would permit, when he saw set forth on a board, in the full moonshine, the friendly caution of“ spring guns and man traps set here ;" the import of which, though he had never gone to Sunday school, Toby knew full well.
When they had fairly gotten over, Job took from his pocket a small flask of whiskey, and taking a pull at it, banded it to Toby, who finished it in a twinkling. His courage seemed much augmented by the potation, and shouldering his spade and sack, he stood erect, awaiting his master's behest ; who now seemed a little in doubt which course to pursue. Twirling the hazel rod between his forefinger and thumb, he carefully noted the direction it assumed as it settled ; and then motioning Toby to be silent and follow birn, with cautious steps he took the route it indicated. So on they marched, “ thorough bush, thorough briar," over old Van Dam's melon beds, strawberry patches, gooseberry bushes, flowers and cabbages, until they reached a small plot of grass in the very centre of the garden, surrounded by a thick hedge of sweet briar.
Undera wide-spreading cherry tree, which stood in the middle of this enclosure, had old Van Dam erected a small arbour, and here, on a summer's afternoon, might he be seen smoking his pipe, amidst the flowers, after the similitude of his ancient pro
totype, Toby Philpot. This was the sanctum sanctorum of the family, and wo betide the unlucky urchin who was so unfortunate as to be detected straying here by Dame Van Dam.
When be reached this spot, my uncle again seemed puzzled in his mind. He examined with great attention the site and appearances of several trees, then rubbed his forehead, as if to assist his memory ; consulted an old scrap of mouldy parchment which he drew from his pocket; and had recourse several times to his divining rod. At length he paced off about a dozen paces from the central cherry tree, and drawing forth a bible, and tracing round it a circle with his rod, he seized the pick ax, and motioning Toby to follow his example, began to dig with might and main. The moon by this time had ascended high in the heavens; and by its light soon had our adventurers gotten several feet into the bowels of the earth. At the depth of about six feet, they came to a large flat stone; at sight of which my uncle could scarcely contain his raptures. He made signs to Toby to jump down into the pit, and assist in its removal. But just as the worthy domestic was preparing to obey,
. he felt a sudden gripe at his throat, and turning round, to his utter terror and confusion, beheld the furious visage of Dame Van Dam. Her face was inflamed to its highest expression of
. wrath and indignation, and her eyes fairly shot fire as she ad. dressed the trembling son of Africa. I shall not attempt to write the huge Dutch mis-shapen oaths and epithets with which she loaded poor Toby. 6 You black rascal,” concluded she ; “ you satan's baby-you copper-coloured villain ; why, what the devil do you mean, by coming here into my garden--here, into the very retreat of my husband, and digging that great hole, you vagabond, rascally dog you ?" Each of these interrogatories she enforced by a vigorous kick, and a renewed squeeze of his windpipe, until the poor fellow actually grew several shades darker in the face. Toby, who, at the best of times, was remarkably shy of this lady's acquaintance, and who, at this precise moment, would almost as soon have met old Nick himself in propria persona, was completely dumb founded : his lower jaw fell, his limbs shook beneath him in the ecstacy of fear; and falling on his knees, he remained speechless with terror. “ Speak, you ink-pot—what do
you mean?" reiterated the dame" but I'll teach
the people's gardens." Then relaxing her hold for an instant, she looked over the hedge, and with a halloo and whistle, called to her dog Swartzcope, who came bounding and barking at her summons. Toby, at this crisis, seemed on a sudden to recover his bewildered intellect: with a quick and unexpected movement, he