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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 140

He started well, but on arriving at the magic circle the plough shied and the wooden landside—or chip, as it was called—came off. It was replaced and the team started again. In a moment the oxen stood unyoked, while the chip jumped off and whirled away out of sight. On this, most of the people edged away in the direction of home, and directly there came from the north a crow that perched on a dead tree and cawed. John Hopkins, owner of the land, cried to the bird, "Squawk, you damned old Pat Jenkins!" and the crow took flight, dropping the chip at Reynolds's feet, at the same moment turning into a beldam with a cocked hat, who descended upon the rock. Before the men could reach her she changed into a black cat and disappeared in the ground. Hunting and digging came to naught, though the pursuers were so earnest and excited that one of them made the furrow in the rock with a welt from his shovel. After that few people cared to go near the place, and it became overgrown with weeds and trees and bushes.





THE OLD STONE MILL

If the round tower at Newport was not Benedict Arnold's wind-mill, and any one or two of several other things, it is probably a relic of the occupancy of this country by Thorwald and his Norsemen. After coasting Wonderstrands (Cape Cod), in the year 1007, they built a town that is known to historians—if not in their histories—as Norumbega, the lost city of New England. It is now fancied that the city stood on the Charles River, near Waltham, Massachusetts, where a monument may be erected, but it is also believed that they reached the neighborhood of Newport, Rhode Island. After this tower—popularly called the old stone mill-was built, a seer among the Narragansetts had a vision in which he foresaw that when the last remnant of the structure had fallen, and not one stone had been left on another, the Indian race would vanish from this continent. The work of its extermination seems, indeed, to have begun with the possession of the coast by white men, and the fate of the aborigines is easily read.





ORIGIN OF A NAME

The origin of many curious geographical names has become an object of mere surmise, and this is the more the pity because they suggest such picturesque possibilities. We would like to know, for instance, how Burnt Coat and Smutty Nose came by such titles. The conglomerate that strews the fields south of Boston is locally known as Roxbury pudding-stone, and, according to Dr. Holmes, the masses are fragments of a pudding, as big as the State-house dome, that the family of a giant flung about, in a fit of temper, and that petrified where it fell. But that would have been called pudding-stone, anyway, from its appearance. The circumstance that named the reef of Norman's Woe has passed out of record, though it is known that goodman Norman and his son settled there in the seventeenth century. It is Longfellow who has endowed the rock with this legend, for he depicts a wreck there in the fury of a winter storm in 1680—the wreck of the Hesperus, Richard Norman, master, from which went ashore next morning the body of an unknown and beautiful girl, clad in ice and lashed to a broken mast.


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