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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 132

Now, Harry Main—to say nothing of Captain Kidd—was believed to have buried his ill-gotten wealth in Ipswich, and one man dreamed for three successive nights that it had been interred in a mill. Believing that a revelation had been made to him he set off with spade, lantern, and Bible, on the first murky night—for he wanted no partner in the discovery—and found a spot which he recognized as the one that had been pictured to his sleeping senses. He set to work with alacrity and a shovel, and soon he unearthed a flat stone and an iron bar. He was about to pry up the stone when an army of black cats encircled the pit and glared into it with eyes of fire.

The poor man, in an access both of alarm and courage, whirled the bar about his head and shouted "Scat!" The uncanny guards of the treasure disappeared instanter, and at the same moment the digger found himself up to his middle in icy water that had poured into the hole as he spoke.

The moral is that you should never talk when you are hunting for treasure. Wet, scared, and disheartened, the man crawled out and made homeward, carrying with him, as proof of his adventure, a case of influenza and the iron bar. The latter trophy he fashioned into a latch, in which shape it still does service on one of the doors of Ipswich.





THE WESSAGUSCUS HANGING

Among the Puritans who settled in Wessaguscus, now Weymouth, Massachusetts, was a brash young fellow, of remarkable size and strength, who, roaming the woods one day, came on a store of corn concealed in the ground, in the fashion of the Indians. As anybody might have done, he filled his hat from the granary and went his way. When the red man who had dug the pit came back to it he saw that his cache had been levied on, and as the footprints showed the marauder to be an Englishman he went to the colonists and demanded justice. The matter could have been settled by giving a pennyworth of trinkets to the Indian, but, as the moral law had been broken, the Puritans deemed it right that the pilferer should suffer.

They held a court and a proposition was made and seriously considered that, as the culprit was young, hardy, and useful to the colony, his clothes should be stripped off and put on the body of a bedridden weaver, who would be hanged in his stead in sight of the offended savages. Still, it was feared that if they learned the truth about that execution the Indians would learn a harmful lesson in deceit, and it was, therefore, resolved to punish the true offender. He, thinking they were in jest, submitted to be bound, though before doing so he could have "cleaned out" the court-room, and ere he was really aware of the purpose of his judges he was kicking at vacancy.


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