Dolph Heyliger





New York was New Amsterdam when Dolph Heyliger got himself born there,--a

graceless scamp, though a brave, good-natured one, and being left

penniless on his father's death he was fain to take service with a

doctor, while his mother kept a shop. This doctor had bought a farm on

the island of Manhattoes--away out of town, where Twenty-third Street now

runs, most likely--and, because of rumors that its tenants had noised

about it, he seemed likely to enjoy the responsibilities of landholding

and none of its profits. It suited Dolph's adventurous disposition that

he should be deputed to investigate the reason for these rumors, and for

three nights he kept his abode in the desolate old manor, emerging after

daybreak in a lax and pallid condition, but keeping his own counsel, to

the aggravation of the populace, whose ears were burning for his news.



Not until long after did he tell of the solemn tread that woke him in the

small hours, of his door softly opening, though he had bolted and locked

it, of a portly Fleming, with curly gray hair, reservoir boots, slouched

hat, trunk and doublet, who entered and sat in the arm-chair, watching

him until the cock crew. Nor did he tell how on the third night he

summoned courage, hugging a Bible and a catechism to his breast for

confidence, to ask the meaning of the visit, and how the Fleming arose,

and drawing Dolph after him with his eyes, led him downstairs, went

through the front door without unbolting it, leaving that task for the

trembling yet eager youth, and how, after he had proceeded to a disused

well at the bottom of the garden, he vanished from sight.



Dolph brooded long upon these things and dreamed of them in bed. He

alleged that it was in obedience to his dreams that he boarded a schooner

bound up the Hudson, without the formality of adieu to his employer, and

after being spilled ashore in a gale at the foot of Storm King, he fell

into the company of Anthony Vander Hevden, a famous landholder and

hunter, who achieved a fancy for Dolph as a lad who could shoot, fish,

row, and swim, and took him home with him to Albany. The Heer had

commodious quarters, good liquor, and a pretty daughter, and Dolph felt

himself in paradise until led to the room he was to occupy, for one of

the first things that he set eyes on in that apartment was a portrait of

the very person who had kept him awake for the worse part of three nights

at the bowerie in Manhattoes. He demanded to know whose picture it was,

and learned that it was that of Killian Vander Spiegel, burgomaster and

curmudgeon, who buried his money when the English seized New Amsterdam

and fretted himself to death lest it should be discovered. He remembered

that his mother had spoken of this Spiegel and that her father was the

miser's rightful heir, and it now appeared that he was one of Heyden's

forbears too. In his dream that night the Fleming stepped out of the

portrait, led him, as he had done before, to the well, where he smiled

and vanished. Dolph reflected, next morning, that these things had been

ordered to bring together the two branches of the family and disclose the

whereabouts of the treasure that it should inherit. So full was he of

this idea that he went back to New Amsterdam by the first schooner, to

the surprise of the Heer and the regret of his daughter.



After the truant had been received with execrations by the doctor and

with delight by his mother, who believed that spooks had run off with

him, and with astonishment, as a hero of romance, by the public, he made

for the haunted premises at the first opportunity and began to angle at

the disused well. Presently he found his hook entangled in something at

the bottom, and on lifting slowly he discovered that he had secured a

fine silver porringer, with lid held down by twisted wire. It was the

work of a moment to wrench off the lid, when he found the vessel to be

filled with golden pieces. His fishing that day was attended with such

luck as never fell to an angler before, for there were other pieces of

plate down there, all engraved with the Spiegel arms and all containing

treasure.



By encouraging the most dreadful stories about the spot, in order to keep

the people wide away from it, he accomplished the removal of his prizes

bit by bit from their place of concealment to his home. His unaccounted

absence in Albany and his dealings with the dead had prepared his

neighbors for any change in himself or his condition, and now that he

always had a bottle of schnapps for the men and a pot of tea for the

women, and was good to his mother, they said that they had always known

that when he changed it would be for the better,--at which his old

detractors lifted their eyebrows significantly--and when asked to dinner

by him they always accepted.



Moreover, they made merry when the day came round for his wedding with

the little maid of Albany. They likewise elected him a member of the

corporation, to which he bequeathed some of the Spiegel plate and often

helped the other city fathers to empty the big punch-bowl. Indeed, it was

at one of these corporation feasts that he died of apoplexy. He was

buried with honors in the yard of the Dutch church in Garden Street.





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