Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 141But one of the oddest preservations of an apposite in name is found in the legend of Point Judith, Rhode Island, an innocent double entendre. About two centuries ago a vessel was driving toward the coast in a gale, with rain and mist. The skipper's eyes were old and dim, so he got his daughter Judith to stand beside him at the helm, as he steered the vessel over the foaming surges. Presently she cried, "Land, father! I see land!" "Where away?" he asked. But he could not see what she described, and the roar of the wind drowned her voice, so he shouted, "Point, Judith! Point!" The girl pointed toward the quarter where she saw the breakers, and the old mariner changed his course and saved his ship from wreck. On reaching port he told the story of his daughter's readiness, and other captains, when they passed the cape in later days, gave to it the name of Point Judith.
MICAH ROOD APPLES
In Western Florida they will show roses to you that drop red dew, like blood, and have been doing so these many years, for they sprang out of the graves of women and children who had been cruelly killed by Indians. But there is something queerer still about the Micah Rood—or "Mike"—apples of Franklin, Connecticut, which are sweet, red of skin, snowy of pulp, and have a red spot, like a blood-drop, near the core; hence they are sometimes known as bloody-hearts. Micah Rood was a farmer in Franklin in 1693. Though avaricious he was somewhat lazy, and was more prone to dream of wealth than to work for it. But people whispered that he did some hard and sharp work on the night after the peddler came to town—the slender man with a pack filled with jewelry and knickknacks—because on the morning after that visit the peddler was found, beneath an apple-tree on Rood farm, with his pack rifled and his skull split open.
Suspicion pointed at Rood, and, while nothing was proved against him, he became gloomy, solitary, and morose, keeping his own counsels more faithfully than ever—though he never was disposed to take counsel of other people. If he had expected to profit by the crime he was obviously disappointed, for he became poorer than ever, and his farm yielded less and less. To be sure, he did little work on it. When the apples ripened on the tree that had spread its branches above the peddler's body, the neighbors wagged their heads and whispered the more, for in the centre of each apple was a drop of the peddler's blood: a silent witness and judgment, they said, and the result of a curse that the dying man had invoked against his murderer. Micah Rood died soon after, without saying anything that his fellow-villagers might be waiting to hear, but his tree is still alive and its strange fruit has been grafted on hundreds of orchards.
A DINNER AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
The Nipmucks were populous at Thompson, Connecticut, where they skilfully tilled the fields, and where their earthworks, on Fort Hill, provided them with a refuge in case of invasion. Their chief, Quinatisset, had his lodge on the site of the Congregational church in Thompson. They believed that Chargoggagmanchogagog Pond was paradise—the home of the Great Spirit and departed souls—and that it would always yield fish to them, as the hills did game. They were fond of fish, and would barter deer-meat and corn for it, occasionally, with the Narragansetts.
Now, these last-named Indians were a waterloving people, and to this day their "fishing fire"—a column of pale flame—rises out of Quinebaug Lake once in seven years, as those say who have watched beside its waters through the night. Knowing their fondness for blue-fish and clams, the Narragansetts asked the Nipmucks to dine with them on one occasion, and this courtesy was eagerly accepted, the up-country people distinguishing themselves by valiant trencher deeds; but, alas, that it should be so! they disgraced themselves when, soon after, they invited the Narragansetts to a feast of venison at Killingly, and quarrelled with their guests over the dressing of the food. This rumpus grew into a battle in which all but two of the invites were slain. Their hosts buried them decently, but grass would never grow above their graves.