45 Wolfert's Roost.
be clattering at their heels. And now there would be a general scamper for King's Bridge, the pass over Spiting Devil Creek, into the British lines. Sometimes the moss-troopers would be overtaken, and eased of part of their booty. Sometimes the whole cavalgada
would urge its headlong- course across the bridge with thundering tramp and dusty whirlwind. At such times their pursuers would rein up their steeds, survey that perilous pass with wary eye, and, wheeling about, indemnify themselves by foraging the refugee region of Morris-
ania. While the debatable land was liable to be thus harried, the great Tappan Sea, along which it extends, was likewise domineered over by
the foe. British ships of war were anchored here and there in the wide expanse of the river, mere floating castles to hold it in subjection.
Stout galleys armed with eighteen pounders and navigated with sails and oars, cruised about like hawks, while row-boats made descents upon the land, and foraged the country along shore.
It was a sore grievance to the yeomanry along the Tappan Sea to behold that little Mediterranean ploughed by hostile prows, and the noble river of which they were so proud reduced to a state of thraldom. Councils of war were held by captains of market-boats and other-river-
craft to devise ways and means of dislodging the enemy. Here and there on a point of land extending into the Tappan Sea, a mud work would be thrown up, and an old field-piece mounted, with which a knot of rustic artillerymen would fire away for a long summer's day at some frigate dozing at anchor far out of reach ; and reliques of such works may still be seen overgrown with weeds and brambles, with perad-
venture the half-buried fragment of a cannon which may have burst.
Jacob Van Tassel was a prominent man in these belligerent operations ; but he was prone, moreover, to carry on a petty warfare of his own for his individual recreation and refreshment. On a row of
hooks above the fireplace of the Roost, reposed his great piece of ordnance—a duck, or rather goose-gun, of unparalleled longitude,
with which it was said he could kill a wild goose half way across the
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