Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
As a lad, Cornelius Littlepage, usually called Corny, studied classics under the Reverend Thomas Worden at Satanstoe as a preparation for going to an American university. Satanstoe was owned by Corny’s father and was so named because it was a peninsula shaped like an inverted toe. When Corny’s father felt that he was prepared to attend a university, a discussion was held with Abraham Van Valkenburgh, or ’Brom Follock, as he was called, to decide on which university Corny was to attend. Follock also had a son, Dirck, the same age as Corny. After comparing the New England manners at Yale with the manners of Newark, later Princeton, it was decided to send Corny to Princeton.
Before settling at Newark, Corny went with his father to visit New York City. They arrived there during a holiday and toured the streets. Because the Patroon of Albany was visiting the city, a crowd had gathered. Corny noticed a beautiful girl named Anneke who had been insulted when a butcher’s boy knocked an apple from her hand. Corny gave the boy a dig in the ribs and then exchanged blows with him. Turning to see the girl again, Corny found that she had disappeared.
In 1755, after completing the four-year course at college, Corny returned to Satanstoe. There he renewed his boyhood friendship with Dirck Follock and met Jason Newcome, the new schoolmaster from Danbury. Newcome took strong exception to New York habits and manners, as exampled by the Reverend Mr. Worden, who played whist with Corny’s mother. Newcome, because of his Connecticut upbringing, was not as well educated as were the Littlepages, and he could not understand their leisure. He felt that Corny should work for a living.
When Corny was twenty, he and Dirck traveled to New York City. On the journey, Corny learned that their fathers had jointly purchased some land from the Indians and that probably, next year, they were to be sent to look over the land, which was not far from Albany. While on the road, Dirck pointed out Lilacsbush, the summer home of Herman Mordaunt, his mother’s cousin. Corny suggested that they stop there, but Dirck explained that Mordaunt and his motherless daughter Anneke remained in their winter home in New York City until after the Pinkster holidays, around Easter time. Dirck declared that Anneke was one of the prettiest girls in the colony. The pair stopped at Mrs. Light’s inn where they heard some gossip about Anneke’s many admirers.
In New York City, Corny visited his aunt, Mrs. Legge, while Dirck stayed with relatives in the town. Jason Newcome, being on a holiday, also made his appearance. Soon after their arrival, the three young men went to the town common to watch the Pinkster frolics, a holiday celebrated by the blacks. There they met Anneke Mordaunt, Dirck’s cousin, who remembered that Corny had fought the butcher’s boy for her sake. The group visited a lion’s cage, and Corny was able to save Anneke’s life when the crowd pressed her close to the bars, and the animal seized her with one paw. In addition to Anneke’s gratitude, Corny also earned that of her father, who invited Corny and Dirck to dine with him. At the Mordaunt house, Corny met several British officers who were numbered among Anneke’s admirers. One, Major Bulstrode, asked Corny why he had not enlisted to fight in the war against the French. Corny replied that his grandfather would not have allowed him to join the colors. Later, he expressed his opinion that the war was not really the concern of the settlers but a quarrel between the English and the French.
During the stay in New York, Corny and Dirck frequently visited the Mordaunts. When the officers gave a dramatic performance to which the Mordaunts and their friends were invited, Bulstrode, the starring performer, was offensive to Anneke’s sensitivities, theatrical performances not being highly considered in the Colonies. Corny and Dirck then rode with the Mordaunts and Mary Wallace to Lilacsbush. In spite of Corny’s efforts to prevent him, Jason Newcome managed to travel with them on the journey back to Satanstoe. On their return home, Corny related the events of his trip, including his meetings with Anneke, to his mother, who was greatly pleased.
In the following March, Dirck and Corny traveled to Albany in order to inspect the land their fathers had bought. They carried with them a quantity of merchandise to sell to the army, which was stationed in Albany. At the inn where they stopped, they learned that the Mordaunts were also there as well as Bulstrode’s regiment and that Herman Mordaunt wanted Anneke to marry Bulstrode. Corny and Dirck had the Reverend Mr. Worden and Jason as their companions, as well as Jaap, a faithful black servant. In order to reach Albany, they were forced to cross the Hudson on ice. Although many other wagons had made the crossing, Worden refused to ride in the sleigh and ran alongside, thus acquiring in Albany the title of the “loping Dominie.” In Albany, Corny met Guert Ten Eyck, an irresponsible young man who...
(The entire section is 2053 words.)
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