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Messengers were despatched to different places on the river; but they returned without any tidings — the ship had made no port. Day after day, and week after week, elapsed; but she never returned down the Hudson. As, however, the council seemed solicitous for intelligence, they had it in abundance. The captains of the sloops seldom arrived without bringing some report of having seen the strange ship at different parts of the river; sometimes near the Palisadoes, sometimes off Croton Point, and sometimes in the highlands; but she never was reported as having been seen above the highlands. The crews of the sloops, it is true, generally differed among themselves in their accounts of these apparitions; but that may have arisen from the uncertain situations in which they saw her. Sometimes it was by the flashes of the thunder-storm lighting up a pitchy night, and giving glimpses of her careering across Tappaan Zee, or the wide waste of Haverstraw Bay. At one moment she would appear close upon them, as if likely to run them down, and would throw them into great bustle and alarm; but the next flash would show her far off, always sailing against the wind. Sometimes, in quiet moonlight nights, she would be seen under some high bluff of the highlands, all in deep shadow, excepting her top-sails glittering in the moonbeams; by the time, however, that the voyagers reached the place, no ship was to be seen; and when they had passed on for some distance, and looked back, behold ! there she was again with her top-sails in the moonshine! Her appearance was always just after, or just before, or just in the midst of, unruly weather; and she was known
Palisadoes : the steep wall of rock on the west bank of the Hudson River, which rises from three hundred to five hundred feet, and stretches twenty miles northward from New York City.
among the skippers and voyagers of the Hudson, by the name of “the storm ship."
These reports perplexed the governor and his council more than ever; and it would be endless to repeat the conjectures and opinions uttered on the subject. Some quoted cases in point, of ships seen off the coast of New England, navigated by witches and goblins. Old Hans
Van Pelt, who had been more than once to the Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope, insisted that this musi be the Flying Dutchman which had so long haunted Table Bay, but, being unable to make port, had now sought another harbor. Others suggested, that, if it really was a supernatural apparition, as there was every natural
Table Bay: the large bay with the famous Table Mountain behind it at the extreme south of the continent of Africa. Note 26.
reason to believe, it might be Hendrick Hudson, and his crew of the Half-Moon; who, it was well known, had once run aground in the upper part of the river, in seeking a northwest passage to China. This opinion had very little weight with the governor, but it passed current out of doors; for indeed it had already been reported, that Hendrick Hudson and his crew haunted the Kaatskill Mountain ; and it appeared very reasonable to suppose, that his ship might infest the river, where the enterprise was
baffled, or that it might bear the shadowy crew to their periodical revels in the mountain.
Other events occurred to occupy the thoughts and doubts of the sage Wouter and his council, and the storm ship ceased to be a subject of deliberation at the board. It continued, however, a matter of popular belief and marvellous anecdote through the whole time of the Dutch government, and particularly just before the capture of New Amsterdam, and the subjugation of the province by the English squadron. About that time the storm ship
was repeatedly seen in the Tappaan Zee, and about Weehawk, and even down as far as Hoboken; and her appearance was supposed to be ominous of the approaching squall in public affairs, and the downfall of Dutch domination.
Since that time, we have no authentic accounts of her; though it is said she still haunts the highlands and cruises
about Point-no-point. People who live along the river, insist that they sometimes see her in summer moonlight; and that in a deep still midnight, they have heard the chant of her crew, as if heaving the lead; but sights and sounds are so deceptive along the mountainous shores, and
Heaving the lead : finding out the depth of the water by dropping a piece of lead, attached to a line, into the sea. The sailors often accompany this, as well as their other duties on board ship, with songs that are heard nowhere else. These songs are called “shanties," a word which comes from the French word chanter, to sing, or our own English word to chant.