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The Cortelyou Elopement


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

In the Bath district of Brooklyn stands Cortelyou manor, built one
hundred and fifty years ago, and a place of defence during the Revolution
when the British made sallies from their camp in Flatbush and worried the
neighborhood. It was in one of these forays on pigs and chickens that a
gallant officer of red-coats met a pretty lass in the fields of
Cortelyou. He stilled her alarm by aiding her to gather wild-flowers, and
it came about that the girl often went into the fields and came back with
prodigious bouquets of daisies. The elder Cortelyou had no inkling of
this adventure until one of his sons saw her tryst with the red-coat at a
distance. Be sure the whole family joined him in remonstrance. As the
girl declared that she would not forego the meetings with her lover, the
father swore that she should never leave his roof again, and he tried to
be as good, or bad, as his word. The damsel took her imprisonment as any
girl of spirit would, but was unable to effect her escape until one
evening, as she sat at her window, watching the moon go down and paint
the harbor with a path of light. A tap at the pane, as of a pebble thrown
against it, roused her from her revery. It was her lover on the lawn.

At her eager signal he ran forward with a light ladder, planted it
against the window-sill, and in less than a minute the twain were running
toward the beach; but the creak of the ladder had been heard, and
grasping their muskets two of the men hurried out. In the track of the
moon the pursuers descried a moving form, and, without waiting to
challenge, they levelled the guns and fired. A woman's cry followed the
report; then a dip of oars was heard that fast grew fainter until it
faded from hearing. On returning to the house they found the girl's room
empty, and next morning her slipper was brought in from the mud at the
landing. Nobody inside of the American lines ever learned what that shot
had done, but if it failed to take a life it robbed Cortelyou of his
mind. He spent the rest of his days in a single room, chained to a staple
in the floor, tramping around and around, muttering and gesturing, and
sometimes startling the passer-by as he showed his white face and ragged
beard at the window.

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