The Vanderdecken Of Tappan Zee

: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

It is Saturday night; the swell of the Hudson lazily heaves against the

shores of Tappan Zee, the cliff above Tarrytown where the white lady

cries on winter nights is pale in starlight, and crickets chirp in the

boskage. It is so still that the lap of oars can be heard coming across

the water at least a mile away. Some small boat, evidently, but of heavy

build, for it takes a vigorous hand to propel it, and now there is a

/> grinding of oars on thole-pins. Strange that it is not yet seen, for the

sound is near. Look! Is that a shadow crossing that wrinkle of starlight

in the water? The oars have stopped, and there is no wind to make that

sound of a sigh.

Ho, Rambout Van Dam! Is it you? Are you still expiating your oath to pull

from Kakiat to Spuyten Duyvil before the dawn of Sabbath, if it takes you

a month of Sundays? Better for you had you passed the night with your

roistering friends at Kakiat, or started homeward earlier, for

Sabbath-breaking is no sin now, and you, poor ghost, will find little

sympathy for your plight. Grant that your month of Sundays, or your cycle

of months of Sundays, be soon up, for it is sad to be reminded that we

may be punished for offences many years forgotten. When the sun is high

to-morrow a score of barges will vex the sea of Tappan, each crowded with

men and maids from New Amsterdam, jigging to profane music and refreshing

themselves with such liquors as you, Rambout, never even smelled--be

thankful for that much. If your shade sits blinking at them from the

wooded buttresses of the Palisades, you must repine, indeed, at the

hardness of your fate.