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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 109

A year later he sat moodily by the lakeside, when a flame burst up from the water, and a canoe floated toward him that a mysterious agency impelled him to enter. The boat sped toward the flame, that, at his approach, assumed Iano's form. He heard the water gurgle as he passed over the spot where the shape had glimmered, but there was no other sound or check. Next year this thing occurred again, and then the spirit spoke: "Only once more."

Yet a third time his fate took him to the spot, and as the hour came on he called his people to him: "This," said he, "is my death-day. I have done evil, and the time comes none too soon. Sassacus was your chief. I envied him his happiness, and gave him poison when I nursed him. Worse than that, I saw Iano in her canoe on her wedding-day. She had refused my hand. I entered my canoe and chased her over the water, in pretended sport, but in the middle of the lake I upset her birch and she was drowned. See! she comes!"

For, as he spoke, the light danced up again, and the boat came, self-impelled, to the strand. Wequoash entered it, and with head bent down was hurried away. Those on the shore saw the flame condense to a woman's shape, and a voice issued from it: "It is my hour!" A blinding bolt of lightning fell, and at the appalling roar of thunder all hid their faces. When they looked up, boat and flame had vanished. Whenever, afterward, an Indian rowed across the place where the murderer had sunk, he dropped a stone, and the monument that grew in that way can be seen on the pond floor to this day.





BERKSHIRE TORIES

The tories of Berkshire, Massachusetts, were men who had been endeared to the king by holding office under warrant from that sacred personage. They have been gently dealt with by historians, but that is "overstrained magnanimity which concentrates its charities and praises for defeated champions of the wrong, and reserves its censures for triumphant defenders of the right." While the following incidents have been so well avouched that they deserve to stand as history, their picturesqueness justifies renewed acquaintance.

Among the loyalists was Gideon Smith, of Stockbridge, who had helped British prisoners to escape, and had otherwise made himself so obnoxious that he was forced for a time to withdraw and pass a season of penitence and meditation in a cavern near Lenox, that is called the Tories' Glen. Here he lay for weeks, none but his wife knowing where he was, but at his request she walked out every day with her children, leading them past his cave, where he fed on their faces with hungry eyes. They prattled on, never dreaming that their father was but a few feet from them. Smith survived the war and lived to be on good terms with his old foes.

In Lenox lived a Tory, one of those respectable buffers to whom wealth and family had given immunity in the early years of the war, but who sorely tried the temper of his neighbors by damning everything American from Washington downward. At last they could endure his abuse no longer; his example had affected other Anglomaniacs, and a committee waited on him to tell him that he could either swear allegiance to the colonies or be hanged. He said he would be hanged if he would swear, or words to that effect, and hanged he was, on a ready-made gallows in the street. He was let down shortly, "brought around" with rum, and the oath was offered again. He refused it. This had not been looked for. It had been taken for granted that he would abjure his fealty to the king at the first tightening of the cord. A conference was held, and it was declared that retreat would be undignified and unsafe, so the Tory was swung up again, this time with a yank that seemed to "mean business." He hung for some time, and when lowered gave no sign of life. There was some show of alarm at this, for nobody wanted to kill the old fellow, and every effort was made to restore consciousness. At last the lungs heaved, the purple faded from his cheek, his eyes opened, and he gasped, "I'll swear." With a shout of joy the company hurried him to the tavern, seated him before the fire, and put a glass of punch in his hand. He drank the punch to Washington's health, and after a time was heard to remark to himself, "It's a hard way to make Whigs, but it'll do it."


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