46 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Tappan Sea. Indeed, there are as many wonders told of this renowned gun, as of the enchanted weapons of classic story. When the belligerent feeling was strong upon Jacob, he would take down his gun, sally forth alone, and prowl along shore, dodging behind
rocks and trees, watching for hours together any ship or galley at anchor or becalmed, as a valorous mo user will watch a rat-hole. So sure as a boat approached the shore, bang went the great goose-gun,
sending on board a shower of slugs and buck-shot; and away scuttled Jacob Van Tassel through some woody ravine. As the Roost stood in a lonely situation, and might be attacked, he guarded against
surprise by making loop-holes in the stone walls, through which to fire upon an assailant. His wife was stout-hearted as himself, and
could load as fast as he could fire ; and his sister, Nochie Van Wurmer, a redoubtable widow, was a match, at he said, for the stoutest man
in the country. Thus garrisoned, his little castle was fitted to stand a siege, and Jacob was the man to defend it to the last charge of powder.
In the process of time the Roost became one of the secret stations, or lurking-places, of the Water Guard. This was an aquatic corps in the pay of the government, organized to range the waters of
the Hudson, and keep watch upon the movements of the enemy. It was composed of nautical men of the river, and hardy youngsters of the adjacent country, expert at pulling an oar or handling a musket.
They were provided with whale-boats, long and sharp, shaped like canoes, and formed to lie lightly on the water, and be rowed with great rapidity. In these they would lurk out of sight by day, in nooks and bays, and behind points of land, keeping a sharp look-out
upon the British ships, and giving intelligence to head-quarters of any extraordinary movement. At night they rowed about in pairs, pulling quietly along with muffled oars, under shadow of the land, or gliding like spectres about frigates and guard-ships to cut off any boat
that might be sent to shore. In this way they were a source of constant uneasiness and alarm to the enemy.
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