Bartleby Willard is a thin, translucent man somewhere between 28 and 42.
He stands at the end of the Battery on the southwestern tip of the ancient isle of Manaháhtaan, shorn now of her hills and the hickory grove, once located in what is now the area of Wall Street and high-flying (Icarus?) finances.
Bartleby considers the shagbark hickory. The long, thin, downward-shedding upward-peeling ragged strips of gray bark; the long, sharp-tipped oval leaves that like to grow in sets of three straight fingers, and most of all the nuts encased first in shells and then in round spongy light-green beach balls, which fall everywhere along the sidewalks of some youths spent beside a Great Lake where once various Iroquoian tongues spoke of peace, war, love and play.
The Erie Indians were undone after five years of war with the Iroquois Confederacy. Their language is largely lost to history and her squabbling shepherds, but it was an Iroquoian language and some believe it was related to Wyandot, which one may yet hear in Wendake, Quebec or Wyandotte, Oklahoma; but never along the southern shore of Lake Erie, where yet roll little balls of browning hickory nuts in the minds of many a now-grown and thus wider-wandering boys. They roll along pebbly sidewalks and against weathered curbs where they nestle into shifting beds of drying leaves. Someone picked up a bruised little hickory nut ball and lobs it at a friend’s head, but the aim was too high, and the friend is unscathed and warned of war. Bookbags drop upon dry autumn yard grass. The war between the Erie alliance and the Iroquois Confederacy began in 1651.
Bartleby Willard stands at the southwesten tip of Manhattan, whose name means something like “good place for getting bows (we’re talking about the hickory grove! at the southern end of the island! have you been there? have you seen the great hickories and their supple boughs?!)”, and feels the wind blow.
Normally Bartleby’s hair is worn short and tidy, a cartoon-dollop-part to one side. But now he becomes a barefoot raven haired girl in a makeshift dress of linen cloth cinched about her tiny waist by a thin fraying hempen rope, knotted on one side. For the better to accept the tussling of the wind. The wind pounces on the opportunity: Bartleby’s long hair, her loose, thin-linen dress, and the half foot of cord on either side of the knot all twist and turn, flap and wriggle in the billows.
The sun is low in the Eastern sky over Breuckelen, from the Dutch words broeck, for marsh(not-mallow) lands, and lede, a little human-dug crick (he means creek) in peat (mostly-rotted life resulting a soft, loamy sort of soil). The Dutch settlement of Breuckelen dates to 1646.
It is morning in New York City, once called Nieuw Amsterdam by the Dutch who began to float and build about the area in 1624; but then in 1664 named in honor of the Duke of York, looking beautiful in multilayered, colorful, wide-flowing quilted robe and long luxurious gray curls (a wig). The Duke of York! Soon to become James II of England and James VII of Scotland. But who saw it coming? Because James II / VII reigned only from 1655 to 1658.
The Glorious Revolution, or Glorieuze Overtocht (“Glorious Crossing”) in Dutch. 1658. Jame II / VII, the last Catholic king of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland was removed against his will and replaced by his daughter Mary and her husband, William III (Prince of Orange [in southern France], and Stadholder of Holland, Zeeland, etc etc tidbits of the Netherlands). It had to do with religion. And other stuff.