STORIED WATERS, CLIFFS AND MOUNTAINS
It is hardly to be wondered at that two prominent scientists should have declared on behalf of the sea-serpent, for that remarkable creature has been reported at so many points, and by so many witnesses not addicted to fish tales nor liquor, that there ought to be some reason for him. He has been especially numerous off the New England coast. He was sighted off Cape Ann in 1817, and several times off Nahant. Though alarming in appearance—for he has a hundred feet of body, a shaggy head, and goggle eyes—he is of lamb-like disposition, and has never justified the attempts that have been made to kill or capture him. Rewards were at one time offered to the seafaring men who might catch him, and revenue cutters cruising about Massachusetts Bay were ordered to keep a lookout for him and have a gun double shotted for action. One fisherman emptied the contents of a ducking gun into the serpent's head, as he supposed, but the creature playfully wriggled a few fathoms of its tail and made off. John Josselyn, gentleman, reports that when he stirred about this neighborhood in 1638 an enormous reptile was seen "quoiled up on a rock at Cape Ann." He would have fired at him but for the earnest dissuasion of his Indian guide, who declared that ill luck would come of the attempt. The sea-serpent sometimes shows amphibious tendencies and occasionally leaves the sea for fresh water. Two of him were seen in Devil's Lake, Wisconsin, in 1892, by four men. They confess, however, that they were fishing at the time. The snakes had fins and were a matter of fifty feet long.
When one of these reptiles found the other in his vicinage he raised his head six feet above water and fell upon him tooth and nail—if he had nails. In their struggles these unpleasant neighbors made such waves that the fishermen's boat was nearly upset.
Even the humble Wabash has its terror, for at Huntington, Indiana, three truthful damsels of the town saw its waters churned by a tail that splashed from side to side, while far ahead was the prow of the animal—a leonine skull, with whiskers, and as large as the head of a boy of a dozen years. As if realizing what kind of a report was going to be made about him, the monster was overcome with bashfulness at the sight of the maidens and sank from view.
In April, 1890, a water-snake was reported in one of the Twin Lakes, in the Berkshire Hills, but the eye-witnesses of his sports let him off with a length of twenty-five feet.
Sysladobosis Lake, in Maine, has a snake with a head like a dog's, but it is hardly worth mentioning because it is only eight feet long-hardly longer than the name of the lake. More enterprise is shown across the border, for Skiff Lake, New Brunswick, has a similar snake thirty feet long.
In Cotton Mather's time a double-headed snake was found at Newbury, Massachusetts,—it had a head at each end,—and before it was killed it showed its evil disposition by chasing and striking at the lad who first met it.
A snake haunts Wolf Pond, Pennsylvania, that is an alleged relic of the Silurian age. It was last seen in September, 1887, when it unrolled thirty feet of itself before the eyes of an alarmed spectator—again a fisherman. The beholder struck him with a pole, and in revenge the serpent capsized his boat; but he forbore to eat his enemy, and, diving to the bottom, disappeared. The creature had a black body, about six inches thick, ringed with dingy-yellow bands, and a mottled-green head, long and pointed, like a pike's.
Silver Lake, near Gainesville, New York, was in 1855 reported to be the lair of a great serpent, and old settlers declare that he still comes to the surface now and then.
A tradition among the poor whites of the South Jruns to the effect that the sea-monster that swallowed Jonah—not a whale, because the throat of that animal is hardly large enough to admit a herring—crossed the Atlantic and brought up at the Carolinas. His passenger was supplied with tobacco and beguiled the tedium of the voyage by smoking a pipe. The monster, being unused to that sort of thing, suffered as all beginners in nicotine poisoning do, and expelled the unhappy man with emphasis. On being safely landed, Jonah attached himself to one of the tribes that peopled the barrens, and left a white progeny which antedated Columbus's arrival by several centuries. God pitied the helplessness of these ignorant and uncourageous whites and led them to Looking-Glass Mountain, North Carolina, where He caused corn and game to be created, and while this race endured it lived in plenty.
Santa Barbara Island, off the California coast, was, for a long time, the supposed head-quarters of swimming and flying monsters and sirens, and no Mexican would pass in hearing of the yells and screams and strange songs without crossing himself and begging the captain to give the rock a wide berth. But the noise is all the noise of cats. A shipwrecked tabby peopled the place many years ago, and her numerous progeny live there on dead fish and on the eggs and chicks of sea-fowl.
Spirit Canon, a rocky gorge that extends for three miles along Big Sioux River, Iowa, was hewn through the stone by a spirit that took the form of a dragon. Such were its size and ferocity that the Indians avoided the place, lest they should fall victims to its ire.
The Hurons believed in a monster serpent—Okniont—who wore a horn on his head that could pierce trees, rocks, and hills. A piece of this horn was an amulet of great value, for it insured good luck.
The Zunis tell of a plumed serpent that lives in the water of sacred springs, and they dare not destroy the venomous creatures that infest the plains of Arizona because, to them, the killing of a snake means a reduction in their slender water-supply. The gods were not so kind to the snakes as men were, for the agatized trees of Chalcedony Park, in Arizona, are held to be arrows shot by the angry deities at the monsters who vexed this region.
Indians living on the shore of Canandaigua Lake, New York, tamed a pretty spotted snake, and fed and petted it until it took a deer at a meal. It grew so large that it eventually encircled the camp and began to prey on its keepers. Vainly they tried to kill the creature, until a small boy took an arrow of red willow, anointed it with the blood of a young woman, and shot it from a basswood bow at the creature's heart. It did not enter at once; it merely stuck to the scales. But presently it began to bore and twist its way into the serpent's body. The serpent rolled into the lake and made it foam in its agony. It swallowed water and vomited it up again, with men dead and alive, before it died.
The monster Amhuluk, whose home is a lake near Forked Mountain, Oregon, had but one passion-to catch and drown all things; and when you look into the lake you see that he has even drowned the sky in it, and has made the trees stand upside down in the water. Wherever he set his feet the ground would soften. As three children were digging roots at the edge of the water he fell on them and impaled two of them on his horns, the eldest only contriving to escape. When this boy reached home his body was full of blotches, and the father suspected how it was, yet he went to the lake at once. The bodies of the children came out of the mud at his feet to meet him, but went down again and emerged later across the water. They led him on in this way until he came to the place where they were drowned. A fog now began to steam up from the water, but through it he could see the little ones lifted on the monster's horns, and hear them cry, "We have changed our bodies." Five times they came up and spoke to him, and five times he raised a dismal cry and begged them to return, but they could not. Next morning he saw them rise through the fog again, and, building a camp, he stayed there and mourned for several days. For five days they showed themselves, but after that they went down and he saw and heard no more of them. Ambuluk had taken the children and they would live with him for ever after.
Crater Lake, Oregon, was a haunt of water-devils who dragged into it and drowned all who ventured near. Only within a few years could Indians be persuaded to go to it as guides. Its discoverers saw in it the work of the Great Spirit, but could not guess its meaning. All but one of these Klamaths stole away after they had looked into its circular basin and sheer walls. He fancied that if it was a home of gods they might have some message for men, so camping on the brink of the lofty cliffs he waited. In his sleep a vision came to him, and he heard voices, but could neither make out appearances nor distinguish a word. Every night this dream was repeated. He finally went down to the lake and bathed, and instantly found his strength increased and saw that the people of his dreams were the genii of the waters—whether good or bad he could not guess. One day he caught a fish for food. A thousand water-devils came to the surface, on the instant, and seized him. They carried him to a rock on the north side of the lake, that stands two thousand feet above the water, and from that they dashed him down, gathering the remains of his shattered body below and devouring them. Since that taste they have been eager for men's blood. The rock on the south side of the lake, called the Phantom Ship, is believed by the Indians to be a destructive monster, innocent as it looks in the daytime.
So with Rock Lake, in Washington. A hideous reptile sports about its waters and gulps down everything that it finds in or on them. Only in 1853 a band of Indians, who had fled hither for security against the soldiers, were overtaken by this creature, lashed to death, and eaten.
The Indians of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas believed that the King Snake, or God Snake, lived in the Gulf of Mexico. It slept in a cavern of pure crystal at the bottom, and its head, being shaped from a solid emerald, lighted the ocean for leagues when it arose near the surface.
Similar to this is the belief of the Cherokees in the kings of rattlesnakes, "bright old inhabitants" of the mountains that grew to a mighty size, and drew to themselves every creature that they looked upon. Each wore a crown of carbuncle of dazzling brightness.
The Indians avoided Klamath Lake because it was haunted by a monster that was half dragon, half hippopotamus.
Hutton Lake, Wyoming, is the home of a serpent queen, whose breathing may be seen in the bubbles that well up in the centre. She is constantly watching for her lover, but takes all men who come in her way to her grotto beneath the water, when she finds that they are not the one she has expected, and there they become her slaves. To lure victims into the lake she sets there a decoy of a beautiful red swan, and should the hunter kill this bird he will become possessed of divine power. Should he see "the woman," as the serpent queen is called, he will never live to tell of it, unless he has seen her from a hiding-place near the shore—for so surely as he is noticed by this Diana of the depths, so surely will her spies, the land snakes, sting him to death. In appearance she is a lovely girl in all but her face, and that is shaped like the head of a monster snake. Her name is never spoken by the Indians, for fear that it will cost them their lives.
Michael Pauw, brave fisherman of Paterson, New Jersey, hero of the fight with the biggest snapping-turtle in Dover Slank, wearer of a scar on his seat of honor as memento of the conflict, member of the Kersey Reds—he whose presence of mind was shown in holding out a chip of St. Nicholas's staff when he met the nine witches of the rocks capering in the mists of Passaic Falls—gave battle from a boat to a monster that had ascended to the cataract. One of the Kersey Reds, leaning out too far, fell astride of the horny beast, and was carried at express speed, roaring with fright, until unhorsed by a projecting rock, up which he scrambled to safety. Falling to work with bayonets and staves, the company despatched the creature and dragged it to shore. One Dutchman—who was quite a traveller, having been as far from home as Albany—said that the thing was what the Van Rensselaers cut up for beef, and that he believed they called it a sturgeon.
There is an odd recurrence among American legends of tales relating to assaults of people or their houses by imps of darkness. The shadowy leaguers of Gloucester, Massachusetts, kept the garrison of that place in a state of fright until they were expelled from the neighborhood by a silver bullet and a chaplain's prayers. Witchcraft was sometimes manifested in Salem by the hurling of missiles from unseen hands. The "stone-throwing devil" of Portsmouth is the subject of a tradition more than two centuries of age, but, as the stone-thrower appears rather as an avenger than as a gratuitously malignant spirit, he is ill treated in having the name of devil applied to him. In this New Hampshire port lived a widow who had a cabin and a bit of land of her own. George Walton, a neighbor, wanted her land, for its situation pleased him, and as the old woman had neither money nor influential friends he charged her with witchcraft, and, whether by legal chicanery or mere force is not recorded, he got his hands upon her property.
The charge of witchcraft was not pressed, because the man had obtained what he wanted, but the poor, houseless creature laid a ban on the place and told the thief that he would never have pleasure nor profit out of it. Walton laughed at her, bade her go her way, and moved his family into the widow's house. It was Sunday night, and the family had gone to bed, when at ten o'clock there came a fierce shock of stones against the roof and doors. All were awake in a moment. A first thought was that Indians were making an assault, but when the occupants peered cautiously into the moonlight the fields were seen to be deserted. Yet, even as they looked, a gate was lifted from its hinges and thrown through the air.
Walton ventured out, but a volley of stones, seemingly from a hundred hands, was delivered at his head, and he ran back to shelter. Doors and windows were barred and shuttered, but it made no difference. Stones, too hot to hold a hand upon, were hurled through glass and down the chimney, objects in the rooms themselves were picked up and flung at Walton, candles were blown out, a hand without a body tapped at the window, locks and bars and keys were bent as if by hammer-blows, a cheese-press was smashed against the wall and the cheese spoiled, hay-stacks in the field were broken up and the hay tossed into branches of trees. For a long time Walton could not go out at night without being assailed with stones. Bell, book, candle, and witch-broth availed nothing, and it was many a day before peace came to the Walton household.
In 1802 an epidemic of assault went through the Berkshire Hills. The performance began in a tailor's shop in Salisbury, Connecticut, at eleven of the clock on the night of November 2, when a stick and lumps of stone, charcoal, and mortar were flung through a window. The moon was up, but nothing could be seen, and the bombardment was continued until after daylight. After doing some damage here the assailants went to the house of Ezekiel Landon and rapped away there for a week. Persons were struck by the missiles, and quantities of glass were destroyed. Nothing could be seen coming toward the windows until the glass broke, and it was seldom that anything passed far into a room. No matter how hard it was thrown, it dropped softly and surely on the sill, inside, as if a hand had put it there. Windows were broken on both sides of buildings at the same time, and many sticks and stones came through the same holes in the panes, as if aimed carefully by a gunner.
A hamlet that stood in Sage's ravine, on the east side of the Dome of the Taconics, was assailed in the same way after nightfall. One house was considerably injured. No causes for the performance were ever discovered, and nobody in the place was known to have an enemy—at least, a malicious one.
At Whitmire Hill, Georgia, the spot where two murders were committed before the war, is a headless phantom that comes thundering down on the wayfarer on the back of a giant horse and vanishes at the moment when the heart of his prospective victim is bumping against his palate. At times, however, this spook prefers to remain invisible, and then it is a little worse, for it showers stones and sods on the pedestrian until his legs have carried him well beyond the phantom's jurisdiction.
The legends of buried treasure, instanced in another place, frequently include assaults by the ghosts of pirates and misers on the daring ones who try to resurrect their wealth.
Forty-seven years ago, in the township of St. Mary's, Illinois, two lads named Groves and a companion named Kirk were pelted with snowballs while on their way home from a barn where they had been to care for the stock for the night. The evening had shut in dark, and the accuracy of the thrower's aim was the more remarkable because it was hardly possible to see more than a rod away. The snowballs were packed so tightly that they did not break on striking, though they were thrown with force, and Kirk was considerably bruised by them. Mr. Groves went out with a lantern, but its rays lit up a field of untrodden snow, and there was no sound except that made by the wind as it whistled past the barn and fences. Toward dawn another inspection was made, and in the dim light the snowballs were seen rising from the middle of a field that had not a footprint on it, and flying toward the spectators like bullets. They ran into the field and laid about them with pitchforks, but nothing came of that, and not until the sun arose was the pelting stopped. Young Kirk, who was badly hurt, died within a year.
The men of Sharon, Connecticut, having wheedled their town-site from the Indians in 1754, were plagued thereafter by whoops and whistlings and the throwing of stones. Men were seen in the starlight and were fired upon, but without effect, and the disturbances were not ended until the Indians had received a sum of money.
Without presuming to doubt the veracity of tradition in these matters, an incident from the writer's boyhood in New England may be instanced. The house of an unpopular gentleman was assailed—not in the ostentatious manner just described, yet in a way that gave him a good deal of trouble. Dead cats appeared mysteriously in his neighborhood; weird noises arose under his windows; he tried to pick up letters from his doorstep that became mere chalk-marks at his touch, so that he took up only splinters under his nails. One night, as a seance was about beginning in his yard, he emerged from a clump of bushes, flew in the direction of the disturbance, laid violent hands on the writer's collar, and bumped his nose on a paving-stone. Then the manifestations were discontinued, for several nights, for repairs.
Like the Greeks, the red men endowed the woods and waters with tutelary sprites, and many of the springs that are now resorted to as fountains of healing were known long before the settlement of Europeans here, the gains from drinking of them being ascribed to the beneficence of spirit guardians. The earliest comers to these shores—or, rather, the earliest of those who entertained such beliefs—fancied that the fabled fountain of eternal youth would be found among the other blessings of the land. To the Spaniards Florida was a land of promise and mystery. Somewhere in its interior was fabled to stand a golden city ruled by a king whose robes sparkled with precious dust, and this city was named for the adventurer—El Dorado, or the Place of the Gilded One. Here, they said, would be found the elixir of life. The beautiful Silver Spring, near the head of the Ocklawaha, with its sandy bottom plainly visible at the depth of eighty feet, was thought to be the source of the life-giving waters, but, though Ponce de Leon heard of this, he never succeeded in fighting his way to it through the jungle.
In Georgia, in the reputed land of Chicora, were a sacred stream that made all young again who bathed there, and a spring so delectable that a band of red men, chancing on it in a journey, could not leave it, and are there forever.
In the island of "Bimini," one of the Lucayos (Bahamas), was another such a fountain.
Between the Flint and Ocmulgee Rivers the Creeks declared was a spring of life, on an island in a marsh, defended from approach by almost impenetrable labyrinths,—a heaven where the women were fairer than any other on earth.
The romantic and superstitious Spaniards believed these legends, and spent years and treasure in searching for these springs. And, surely, if the new and striking scenes of this Western world caused Columbus to "boast that he had found the seat of paradise, it will not appear strange that Ponce de Leon should dream of discovering the fountain of youth."
The Yuma Apaches had been warned by one of their oracles never to enter a certain canon in Castle Dome range, Arizona, but a company of them forgot this caution while in chase of deer, and found themselves between walls of pink and white fluorite with a spring bubbling at the head of the ravine. Tired and heated, they fell on their faces to drink, when they found that the crumbling quartz that formed the basin of the spring was filled with golden nuggets. Eagerly gathering up this precious substance, for they knew what treasure of beads, knives, arrows, and blankets the Mexicans would exchange for it, they attempted to make their way out of the canon; but a cloudburst came, and on the swiftly rising tide all were swept away but one, who survived to tell the story. White men have frequently but vainly tried to find that spring.
In Southwestern Kansas, on a hill a quarter-mile from Solomon River, is the Sacred Water, pooled in a basin thirty feet across. When many stand about the brink it slowly rises. Here two Panis stopped on their return from a buffalo hunt, and one of them unwittingly stepped on a turtle a yard long. Instantly he felt his feet glued to the monster's back, for, try as he might, he could not disengage himself, and the creature lumbered away to the pool, where it sank with him. There the turtle god remains, and beads, arrows, ear-rings, and pipes that are dropped in, it swallows greedily. The Indians use the water to mix their paint with, but never for drinking.
The mail rider, crossing the hot desert of Arizona, through the cacti and over holes where scorpions hide, makes for Devil's Well, under El Diablo—a dark pool surrounded with gaunt rocks. Here, coming when the night is on, he lies down, and the wind swishing in the sage—brush puts him to sleep. At dawn he wakens with the frightened whinny of his horse in his ears and, all awake, looks about him. A stranger, wrapped in a tattered blanket, is huddled in a recess of the stones, arrived there, like himself, at night, perhaps. Poising his rifle on his knee, the rider challenges him, but never a sign the other makes. Then, striding over to him, he pulls away the blanket and sees a shrivelled corpse with a face that he knows—his brother. Hardly is this meeting made when a hail of arrows falls around. His horse is gone. The Apaches, who know no gentleness and have no mercy, have manned every gap and sheltering rock. With his rifle he picks them off, as they rise in sight with arrows at the string, and sends them tumbling into the dust; but, when his last bullet has sped into a red man's heart, they rise in a body and with knives and hatchets hew him to death. And that is why the Devil's Well still tastes of blood.
Among the Balsam Mountains of Western North Carolina is a large spring that promises refreshment, but, directly that the wayfarer bends over the water, a grinning face appears at the bottom and as he stoops it rises to meet his. So hideous is this demon that few of the mountaineers have courage to drink here, and they refuse to believe that the apparition is caused by the shape of the basin, or aberrated reflection of their own faces. They say it is the visage of a "haunt," for a Cherokee girl, who had uncommon beauty, once lived hard by, and took delight in luring lovers from less favored maidens. The braves were jealous of each other, and the women were jealous of her, while she—the flirt!—rejoiced in the trouble that she made. A day fell for a wedding—that of a hunter with a damsel of his tribe, but at the hour appointed the man was missing. Mortified and hurt, the bride stole away from the village and began a search of the wood, and she carried bow and arrows in her hand. Presently she came on the hunter, lying at the feet of the coquette, who was listening to his words with encouraging smiles. Without warning the deserted girl drew an arrow to the head and shot her lover through the heart—then, beside his lifeless body, she begged Manitou to make her rival's face so hideous that all would be frightened who looked at it. At the words the beautiful creature felt her face convulse and shrivel, and, rushing to the mirror of the spring, she looked in, only to start back in loathing. When she realized that the frightful visage that glared up at her was her own, she uttered a cry of despair and flung herself into the water, where she drowned.
It is her face—so altered as to disclose the evil once hid behind it—that peers up at the hardy one who passes there and knows it as the Haunted Spring.
The medicinal properties of the mineral springs at Ballston and Saratoga were familiar to the Indians, and High Rock Spring, to which Sir William Johnson was carried by the Mohawks in 1767 to be cured of a wound, was called "the medicine spring of the Great Spirit," for it was believed that the leaping and bubbling of the water came from its agitation by hands not human, and red men regarded it with reverence.
The springs at Manitou, Colorado (see "Division of Two Tribes"), were always approached with gifts for the manitou that lived in them.
The lithia springs of Londonderry, New Hampshire, used to be visited by Indians from the Merrimack region, who performed incantations and dances to ingratiate themselves with the healing spirit that lived in the water. Their stone implements and arrow-heads are often found in adjacent fields.
The curative properties of Milford Springs, New Hampshire, were revealed in the dream of a dying boy.
A miracle spring flowed in the old days near the statue of the Virgin at White Marsh, Maryland.
Biddeford Pool, Maine, was a miracle pond once a year, for whoso bathed there on the 26th of June would be restored to health if he were ill, because that day was the joint festival of Saints Anthelm and Maxentius.
There was a wise and peaceable chief of the Ute tribe who always counselled his people to refrain from war, but when he grew old the fiery spirits deposed him and went down to the plains to give battle to the Arapahoe. News came that they had been defeated in consequence of their rashness. Then the old man's sorrow was so keen that his heart broke. But even in death he was beneficent, for his spirit entered the earth and forthwith came a gush of water that has never ceased to flow—the Hot Sulphur Springs of Colorado. The Utes often used to go to those springs to bathe—and be cured of rheumatism—before they were driven away.
Spring River, Arkansas, is nearly as large at its source as at its mouth, for Mammoth Spring, in the Ozark Mountains, where it has its rise, has a yield of ninety thousand gallons a minute, so that it is, perhaps, the largest in the world. Here, three hundred years ago, the Indians had gathered for a month's feast, for chief Wampahseesah's daughter—Nitilita—was to wed a brave of many ponies, a hundred of which he had given in earnest of his love. For weeks no rain had fallen, and, while the revel was at its height, news came that all the rivers had gone dry. Several young men set off with jars, to fill them at the Mississippi, and, confident that relief would come, the song and dance went on until the men and women faltered from exhaustion. At last, Nitilita died, and, in the wildness of his grief, the husband smote his head upon a rock and perished too. Next day the hunters came with water, but, incensed by their delay, the chief ordered them to be slain in sacrifice to the manes of the dead. A large grave was dug and the last solemnities were begun when there was a roaring and a shaking in the earth—it parted, and the corpses disappeared in the abyss. Then from the pit arose a flood of water that went foaming down the valley. Crazed with grief, remorse, and fear, Wampahseesah flung himself into the torrent and was borne to his death. The red men built a dam there later, and often used to sit before it in the twilight, watching, as they declared, the faces of the dead peering at them through the foam.
During the rush for the California gold-fields in the '50's a party took the route by Gila River, and set across the desert. The noon temperature was 120, the way was strewn with skeletons of wagons, horses, and men, and on the second night after crossing the Colorado the water had given out. The party had gathered on the sands below Yuma, the men discussing the advisability of returning, the women full of apprehension, the young ones crying, the horses panting; but presently the talk fell low, for in one of the wagons a child's voice was heard in prayer: "Oh, good heavenly Father, I know I have been a naughty girl, but I am so thirsty, and mamma and papa and baby all want a drink so much! Do, good God, give us water, and I never will be naughty again." One of the men said, earnestly, "May God grant it!" In a few moments the child cried, "Mother, get me water. Get some for baby and me. I can hear it running." The horses and mules nearly broke from the traces, for almost at their feet a spring had burst from the sand-warm, but pure. Their sufferings were over. The water continued to flow, running north for twenty miles, and at one point spreading into a lake two miles wide and twenty feet deep. When emigration was diverted, two years later, to the northern route and to the isthmus, New River Spring dried up. Its mission was over.
So few States in this country—and so few countries, if it comes to that—are without a lover's leap that the very name has come to be a by-word. In most of these places the disappointed ones seem to have gone to elaborate and unusual pains to commit suicide, neglecting many easy and equally appropriate methods. But while in some cases the legend has been made to fit the place, there is no doubt that in many instances the story antedated the arrival of the white men. The best known lovers' leaps are those on the upper Mississippi, on the French Broad, Jump Mountain, in Virginia, Jenny Jump Mountain, New Jersey, Mackinac, Michigan, Monument Mountain, Massachusetts, on the Wissahickon, near Philadelphia, Muscatine, Iowa, and Lefferts Height. There are many other declivities,—also, that are scenes of leaps and adventures, such as the Fawn's Leap, in Kaaterskill Clove; Rogers's Rock, on Lake George; the rocks in Long Narrows, on the Juniata, where the ghost of Captain Jack, "the wild hunter" of colonial days, still ranges; Campbell's Ledge, Pittston, Pennsylvania, where its name-giver jumped off to escape Indians; and Peabody's leap, of thirty feet, on Lake Champlain, where Tim Peabody, a scout, escaped after killing a number of savages.
At Jump Mountain, near Lexington, Virginia, an Indian couple sprang off because there were insuperable bars to their marriage.
At the rock on the Wissahickon a girl sought death because her lover was untrue to her.
At Muscatine the cause of a maid's demise and that of her lover was the severity of her father, who forbade the match because there was no war in which the young man could prove his courage.
At Lefferts Height a girl stopped her recreant lover as he was on his way to see her rival, and urging his horse to the edge of the bluff she leaped with him into the air.
Monument Mountain, a picturesque height in the Berkshires, is faced on its western side by a tall precipice, from which a girl flung herself because the laws of her tribe forbade her marriage with a cousin to whom she had plighted troth. She was buried where her body was found, and each Indian as he passed the spot laid a stone on her grave—thus, in time, forming a monument.
"Purgatory," the chasm at Newport, Rhode Island, through which the sea booms loudly after a storm, was a scene of self-sacrifice to a hopeless love on the part of an Indian pair in a later century, though there is an older tradition of the seizure of a guilty squaw, by no less a person than the devil himself, who flung her from the cliff and dragged her soul away as it left her body. His hoof-marks were formerly visible on the rocks.
At Hot Springs, North Carolina, two conspicuous cliffs are pointed out on the right bank of the French Broad River: Paint Rock—where the aborigines used to get ochre to smear their faces, and which they decorated with hieroglyphics—and Lover's Leap. It is claimed that the latter is the first in this country known to bear this sentimental and tragically suggestive title. There are two traditions concerning it, one being that an Indian girl was discovered at its top by hostiles who drove her into the gulf below, the other relating to the wish of an Indian to marry a girl of a tribe with which his own had been immemorially at war. The match was opposed on both sides, so, instead of doing as most Indians and some white men would do nowadays—marry the girl and let reconciliation come in time,—he scaled the rock in her company and leaped with her into the stream. They awoke as man and wife in the happy hunting-ground.
In 1700 there lived in the village of Keoxa, below Frontenac, Minnesota, on the Mississippi River, a Dakota girl named Winona (the First Born), who was loved by a hunter in her tribe, and loved him in return. Her friends commended to her affections a young chief who had valiantly defended the village against an attack of hostiles, but Juliet would none of this dusky Count de Paris, adhering faithfully to her Romeo. Unable to move her by argument, her family at length drove her lover away, and used other harsh measures to force her into a repugnant union, but she replied, "You are driving me to despair. I do not love this chief, and cannot live with him. You are my father, my brothers, my relatives, yet you drive from me the only man with whom I wish to be united. Alone he ranges through the forest, with no one to build his lodge, none to spread his blanket, none to wait on him. Soon you will have neither daughter, sister, nor relative to torment with false professions." Blazing with anger at this unsubmissive speech, her father declared that she should marry the chief on that very day, but while the festival was in preparation she stole to the top of the crag that has since been known as Maiden's Rock, and there, four hundred feet above the heads of the people, upbraided those who had formerly professed regard for her. Then she began her death-song. Some of the men tried to scale the cliff and avert the tragedy that it was evident would shortly be enacted, and her father, his displeasure forgotten in an agony of apprehension, called to her that he would no longer oppose her choice. She gave no heed to their appeals, but, when the song was finished, walked to the edge of the rock, leaped out, and rolled lifeless at the feet of her people.
When we say that the real name of Lover's Leap in Mackinac is Mechenemockenungoqua, we trust that it will not be repeated. It has its legend, however, as well as its name, for an Ojibway girl stood on this spire of rock, watching for her lover after a battle had been fought and her people were returning. Eagerly she scanned the faces of the braves as their war-canoes swept by, but the face she looked for was not among them. Her lover was at that moment tied to a tree, with an arrow in his heart. As she looked at the boats a vision of his fate revealed itself, and the dead man, floating toward her, beckoned. Her death-song sounded in the ears of the men, but before they could reach her she had gone swiftly to the verge, her hands extended, her eyes on vacancy, and her spirit had met her lover's.
From this very rock, in olden time, leaped the red Eve when the red Adam had been driven away by a devil who had fallen in love with her. Adam, who was paddling by the shore, saw she was about to fall, rushed forward, caught her, and saved her life. The law of gravitation in those days did not act with such distressing promptitude as now. Manitou, hearing of these doings, restored them to the island and banished the devil, who fell to a world of evil spirits underground, where he became the father of the white race, and has ever since persecuted the Indians by proxy.
On the same island of Mackinac the English had a fort, the garrison of which was massacred in 1763. A sole survivor—a young officer named Robinson—owed his life to a pretty half-breed who gave him hiding in a secluded wigwam. As the spot assured him of safety, and the girl was his only companion, they lived together as man and wife, rather happily, for several years. When the fort had been built again, Robinson re-entered the service, and appeared at head-quarters with a wife of his own color. His Indian consort showed no jealousy. On the contrary, she consented to live apart in a little house belonging to the station, on the cliff, called Robinson's Folly. She did ask her lover to go there and sit with her for an hour before they separated forever, and he granted this request. While they stood at the edge of the rock she embraced him; then, stepping back, with her arms still around his neck, she fell from the cliff, dragging him with her, and both were killed. The edge of the rock fell shortly after, carrying the house with it.
Matiwana, daughter of the chief of the Omahas, whose village was near the mouth of Omaha Creek, married a faithless trader from St. Louis, who had one wife already, and who returned to her, after an absence among his own people, with a third, a woman of his own color. He coldly repelled the Indian woman, though he promised to send her boy—and his—to the settlements to be educated. She turned away with only a look, and a few days later was found dead at the foot of a bluff near her home.
White Rocks, one hundred and fifty feet above Cheat River, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, were the favorite tryst of a handsome girl, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer of that region, and a dashing fellow who had gone into that country to hunt. They had many happy days there on the hill together, but after making arrangements for the wedding they quarrelled, nobody knew for what. One evening they met by accident on the rocks, and appeared to be in formal talk when night came on and they could no longer be seen. The girl did not return, and her father set off with a search party to look for her. They found her, dead and mangled, at the foot of the rocks. Her lover, in a fit of impatience, had pushed her and she had staggered and fallen over. He fled at once, and, under a changed name and changed appearance, eluded pursuit. When the War of the Rebellion broke out, he entered the army and fought recklessly, for by that time he had tired of life and hoped to die. But it was of no use. He was only made captain for a bravery that he was not conscious of showing, and the old remorse still preyed on him. It was after the war that something took him back to Fayette County, and on a pleasant day he climbed the rocks to take a last look at the scenes that had been brightened by love and saddened by regret. He had not been long on its summit when an irresistible impulse came upon him to leap down where the girl had fallen, and atone with his own blood for the shedding of hers. He gave way to this prompting, and the fall was fatal.
Some years before the outbreak of the Civil War a man with his wife and daughter took up their residence in a log cabin at the foot of Sunrise Rock, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. It seemed probable that they had known better days, for the head of the household was notoriously useless in the eyes of his neighbors, and was believed to get his living through "writin' or book-larnin'," but he was so quiet and gentle that they never upbraided him, and would sometimes, after making a call, wander into his garden and casually weed it for him for an hour or so. The girl, Stella, was a well-schooled, quick-witted, rosy-cheeked lass, whom all the shaggy, big-jointed farmer lads of the neighborhood regarded with hopeless admiration. A year or two after the settlement of the family it began to be noticed that she was losing color and had an anxious look, and when a friendly old farmer saw her talking in the lane with a lawyer from Chattanooga, who wore broadcloth and had a gold watch, he was puzzled that the "city chap" did not go home with her, but kissed his hand to her as he turned away. Afterward the farmer met the pair again, and while the girl smiled and said, "Howdy, Uncle Joe?" the lawyer turned away and looked down the river. It was the last time that a smile was seen on Stella's face. A few evenings later she was seen standing on Sunrise Rock, with her look bent on Chattanooga. The shadow of night crept up the cliff until only her figure stood in sunlight, with her hair like a golden halo about her face. At that moment came on the wind the sound of bells-wedding-bells. Pressing her hands to her ears, the girl walked to the edge of the rock, and a few seconds later her lifeless form rolled through the bushes at its foot into the road. At her funeral the people came from far and near to offer sympathy to the mother, garbed in black, and the father, with his hair turned white, but the lawyer from Chattanooga was not there.
The name of Indian Maiden's Cliff—applied to a precipice that hangs above the wild ravine of Stony Clove, in the Catskills—commemorates the sequel to an elopement from her tribe of an Indian girl and her lover. The parents and relatives had opposed the match with that fatal fatuity that appears to be characteristic of story-book Indians, and as soon as word of her flight came to the village they set off in chase. While hurrying through the tangled wood the young couple were separated and the girl found herself on the edge of the cliff. Farther advance was impossible. Her pursuers were close behind. She must yield or die. She chose not to yield, and, with a despairing cry, flung herself into the shadows.
Similar to this is the tale of Lover's Leap in the dells of the Sioux, among the Black Hills of South Dakota.
At New Milford, Connecticut, they show you Falls Mountain, with the cairn erected by his tribe in 1735 to chief Waramaug, who wished to be buried there, so that, when he was cold and lonely in the other life, he could return to his body and muse on the lovely landscape that he so enjoyed. The will-o'-the-wisp flickered on the mountain's edge at night, and flecks of dew-vapor that floated from the wood by day were sometimes thought to be the spirit of the chief. He had a daughter, Lillinonah, whose story is related to Lover's Leap, on the riverward side of the mountain. She had led to the camp a white man, who had been wandering beside the Housatonic, ill and weak, vainly seeking a way out of the wilderness, and, in spite of the dark looks that were cast at him and her, she succeeded in making him, for that summer, a member of the tribe. As the man grew strong with her care he grew happy and he fell in love. In the autumn he said to her, "I wish to see my people, and when I have done so I will come back to you and we shall be man and wife." They parted regretfully and the winter passed for the girl on leaden feet. With spring came hope. The trails were open, and daily she watched for her white lover. The summer came and went, and the autumn was there again. She had grown pale and sad, and old Waramaug said to young Eagle Feather, who had looked softly on her for many years, "The girl sickens in loneliness. You shall wed her." This is repeated to her, and that evening she slips away to the river, enters a canoe, casts away the paddle, and drifts down the stream. Slowly, at first, but faster and faster, as the rapids begin to draw it, skims the boat, but above the hoarse brawling of the waters she hears a song in a voice that she knows—the merry troll of a light heart. The branches part at Lover's Leap and her lover looks down upon her. The joyous glance of recognition changes to a look of horror, for the boat is caught. The girl rises and holds her arms toward him in agonized appeal. Life, at any cost! He, with a cry, leaps into the flood as the canoe is passing. It lurches against a rock and Lillinonah is thrown out. He reaches her. The falls bellow in their ears. They take a last embrace, and two lives go out in the growing darkness.
From the oldest time men have associated the mountains with visitations of God. Their height, their vastness, their majesty made them seem worthy to be stairs by which the Deity might descend to earth, and they stand in religious and poetic literature to this day as symbols of the largest mental conceptions. Scriptural history is intimately associated with them, and the giving of the law on Sinai, amid thunder and darkness, is one of the most tremendous pictures that imagination can paint. Ararat, Hermon, Horeb, Pisgah, Calvary, Adam's Peak, Parnassus, Olympus! How full of suggestion are these names! And poetic figures in sacred writings are full of allusion to the beauty, nobility, and endurance of the hills.
It is little known that many of our own mountains are associated with aboriginal legends of the Great Spirit. According to the Indians of California, Mount Shasta was the first part of the earth to be made. The Great Spirit broke a hole through the floor of heaven with a rock, and on the spot where this rock had stopped he flung down more rocks, with earth and snow and ice, until the mass had gained such a height that he could step from the sky to its summit. Running his hands over its sides he caused forests to spring up. The leaves that he plucked he breathed upon, tossed into the air, and, lo! they were birds. Out of his own staff he made beasts and fishes, to live on the hills and in the streams, that began to appear as the work of worldbuilding went on. The earth became so joyous and so fair that he resolved at last to live on it, and he hollowed Shasta into a wigwam, where he dwelt for centuries, the smoke of his lodge-fire (Shasta is a volcano) being often seen pouring from the cone before the white man came.
According to the Oregon Indians the first man was created at the base of the Cascade Range, near Wood River, by Kmukamtchiksh, "the old man of the ancients," who had already made the world. The Klamaths believe Kmukamtchiksh a treacherous spirit, "a typical beast god," yet that he punishes the wicked by turning them into rocks on the mountain-sides or by putting them into volcanic fires.
Sinsinawa Mound, Wisconsin, was the home of strange beings who occupied caverns that few dared to enter. Enchanted rivers flowed through these caves to heaven. The Catskills and Adirondacks were abodes of powerful beings, and the Highlands of the Hudson were a wall within which Manitou confined a host of rebellious spirits. When the river burst through this bulwark and poured into the sea, fifty miles below, these spirits took flight, and many succeeded in escaping. But others still haunt the ravines and bristling woods, and when Manitou careers through the Hudson canon on his car of cloud, crying with thunder voice, and hurling his lightnings to right and left as he passes, the demons scream and howl in rage and fear lest they be recaptured and shut up forever beneath the earth.
The White Mountains were held in awe by Indians, to whom they were homes of great and blessed spirits. Mount Washington was their Olympus and Ararat in one, for there dwelt God, and there, when the earth was covered with a flood, lived the chief and his wife, whom God had saved, sending forth a hare, after the waters had subsided, to learn if it were safe to descend. From them the whole country was peopled with red men. Yet woe betide the intruder on this high and holy ground, for an angered deity condemned him to wander for ages over the desolate peaks and through the shadowy chasms rifted down their sides. The despairing cries of these condemned ones, in winter storms, even frightened the early white settlers in this region, and in 1784 the women of Conway petitioned three clergymen "to lay the spirits."
Other ark and deluge legends relate to the Superstition Mountains, in Arizona, Caddoes village, on Red River, Cerro Naztarny, on the Rio Grande, the peak of Old Zuni, in Mexico, Colhuacan, on the Pacific coast, Mount Apaola, in upper Mixteca, and Mount Neba, in Guaymi. The Northwestern Indians tell of a flood in which all perished save one man, who fled to Mount Tacoma. To prevent him from being swept away a spirit turned him into stone. When the flood had fallen the deity took one of his ribs and made a woman of it. Then he touched the stone man back to life.
There were descendants of Manitou on the mountains, too, of North Carolina, but the Cherokees believe that those heights are bare because the devil strode over them on his way to the Devil's Court House (Transylvania County, North Carolina), where he sat in judgment and claimed his own. Monsters were found in the White Mountains. Devil's Den, on the face of Mount Willard, was the lair of one of them—a strange, winged creature that strewed the floor of its cave with brute and human skeletons, after preying on their flesh.
The ideas of supernatural occurrences in these New Hampshire hills obtained until a recent date, and Sunday Mountain is a monument to the dire effects of Sabbath-breaking that was pointed out to several generations of New Hampshire youth for their moral betterment. The story goes that a man of the adjacent town of Oxford took a walk one Sunday, when he should have taken himself to church; and, straying into the woods here, he was delivered into the claws and maws of an assemblage of bears that made an immediate and exemplary conclusion of him.
The grand portrait in rock in Profile Notch was regarded with reverence by the few red men who ventured into that lonely defile. When white men saw it they said it resembled Washington, and a Yankee orator is quoted as saying, "Men put out signs representing their different trades. Jewellers hang out a monster watch, shoemakers a huge boot, and, up in Franconia, God Almighty has hung out a sign that in New England He makes men."
To Echo Lake, close by, the deity was wont to repair that he might contemplate the beauties of nature, and the clear, repeated echoes were his voice, speaking in gentleness or anger. Moosilauke—meaning a bald place, and wrongly called Moose Hillock—was declared by Waternomee, chief of the Pemigewassets, to be the home of the Great Spirit, and the first time that red men tried to gain the summit they returned in fear, crying that Gitche Manitou was riding home in anger on a storm—which presently, indeed, burst over the whole country. Few Indians dared to climb the mountain after that, and the first fruits of the harvest and first victims of the chase were offered in propitiation to the deity. At Seven Cascades, on its eastern slope, one of Rogers's Rangers, retreating after the Canadian foray, fell to the ground, too tired for further motion, when a distant music of harps mingled with the cascade's plash, and directly the waters were peopled with forms glowing with silver-white, like the moonstone, that rose and circled, hand in hand, singing gayly as they did so. The air then seemed to be flooded with rosy light and thousands of sylvan genii ascended altars of rock, by steps of rainbow, to offer incense and greet the sun with song. A dark cloud passed, daylight faded, and a vision arose of the massacre at St. Francis, a retreat through untried wilderness, a feast on human heads, torture, and death; then his senses left the worn and starving man. But a trapper who had seen his trail soon reached him and led him to a friendly settlement, where he was told that only to those who were about to take their leave of earth was it given to know those spirits of fountain and forest that offered their voices, on behalf of nature, in praise of the Great Spirit. To those of grosser sense, on whom the weight of worldliness still rested, this halcyon was never revealed.
It was to Mount Washington that the Great Spirit summoned Passaconaway, when his work was done, and there was his apotheosis.
The Indians account in this manner for the birth of the White Mountains: A red hunter who had wandered for days through the forest without finding game dropped exhausted on the snow, one night, and awaited death. But he fell asleep and dreamed. In his vision he saw a beautiful mountain country where birds and beasts and fruits were plenty, and, awaking from his sleep, he found that day had come. Looking about the frozen wilderness in despair, he cried, "Great Master of Life, where is this country that I have seen?" And even as he spoke the Master appeared and gave to him a spear and a coal. The hunter dropped the coal on the ground, when a fire spread from it, the rocks burning with dense smoke, out of which came the Master's voice, in thunder tones, bidding the mountains rise. The earth heaved and through the reek the terrified man saw hills and crags lifting—lifting—until their tops reached above the clouds, and from the far summits sounded the promise, "Here shall the Great Spirit live and watch over his children." Water now burst from the rocks and came laughing down the hollows in a thousand brooks and rills, the valleys unfolded in leaf and bloom, birds sang in the branches, butterflies-like winged flowers flitted to and fro, the faint and cheerful noise of insect life came from the herbage, the smoke rolled away, a genial sun blazed out, and, as the hunter looked in rapture on the mighty peaks of the Agiochooks, God stood upon their crest.
END OF VOLUME II