48 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
being captive, there was none to garrison it but his stout-hearted spouse, his redoubtable sister, Nochie Van Wurmer, and Dinah, a strapping negro wench. An armed vessel came to anchor in front; a boat full of men pulled to shore. The garrison flew to arms ; that
that is to say, to mops, broomsticks, shovels, tongs, and all kinds of domestic weapons,—for unluckily the great piece of ordnance, the eoose-gfun, was absent with its owner. Above all, a vigorous defence was made with that most potent of female weapons, the tongue.
Never did invaded hen-roost make a more vociferous outcry. It was all in vain. The house was sacked and plundered, fire was set to each corner, and in a few moments its blaze shed a baleful light far
over the Tappan Sea. The invaders then pounced upon the blooming Laney Van Tassel, the beauty of the Roost, and endeavored to
bear her off to the boat. But here was the real tug of war. The mother, the aunt, and the strapping negro wench, all flew to the rescue. The struggle continued down to the very waters' edge, when
a voice from the armed vessel at anchor ordered the spoilers to desist they relinquished their prize, jumped into their boats, and pulled off, and the heroine of the Roost escaped with a mere rumpling of her feathers.
As to the stout Jacob himself, he was detained a prisoner in New
York for the greater part of the war; in the meantime the Roost re-
mained a melancholy ruin, its stone walls and brick chimneys alone standing, the resorts of bats and owls. Superstitious notions prevailed about it. None of the country people would venture alone at night
down the rambling lane which led to it, overhung with trees, and crossed here and there by a wild wandering brook. The story went that one of the victims of Jacob Van Tassel's great goose-gun had
been buried there in unconsecrated ground.
Even the Tappan Sea in front was said to be haunted. Often in the still twilight of a summer evening, when the sea would be as glass, and the opposite hills would throw their purple shadows half across it,
a low sound would be heard as of the steady, vigorous pull of oars,
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