Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 145Loud were the Moodus noises that night. The mountain shook and groans and hisses were heard in the air as he pried up the stone that lay across the pit-mouth. When he had lifted it off a light poured from it and streamed into the heaven like a crimson comet or a spear of the northern aurora. It was the flash of the great carbuncle, and the stars seen through it were as if dyed in blood. In the morning Steele was gone. He had taken ship for England. The gem carried with it an evil fate, for the galley sank in mid-ocean; but, though buried beneath a thousand fathoms of water, the red ray of the carbuncle sometimes shoots up from the sea, and the glow of it strikes fear into the hearts of passing sailors. Long after, when the booming was heard, the Indians said that the hill was giving birth to another beautiful stone.
Such cases are not singular. A phenomenon similar to the Moodus noises, and locally known as "the shooting of Nashoba Hill," occurs at times in the eminence of that name near East Littleton, Massachusetts. The strange, deep rumbling was attributed by the Indians to whirlwinds trying to escape from caves.
Bald Mountain, North Carolina, was known as Shaking Mountain, for strange sounds and tremors were heard there, and every moonshiner who had his cabin on that hill joined the church and was diligent in worship until he learned that the trembling was due to the slow cracking and separation of a great ledge.
At the end of a hot day on Seneca Lake, New York, are sometimes heard the "lake guns," like exploding gas. Two hundred years ago Agayentah, a wise and honored member of the Seneca tribe, was killed here by a lightning-stroke. The same bolt that slew him wrenched a tree from the bank and hurled it into the water, where it was often seen afterward, going about the lake as if driven by unseen currents, and among the whites it got the name of the Wandering Jew. It is often missing for weeks together, and its reappearances are heralded by the low booming of—what? The Indians said that the sound was but the echo of Agayentah's voice, warning them of dangers and summoning them to battle, while the Wandering Jew became his messenger.
When witchcraft went rampant through New England the Connecticut town of Haddam owned its share of ugly old women, whom it tried to reform by lectures and ducking, instead of killing. It was averred that Goody So-and-So had a black cat for a familiar, that Dame Thus-and-Thus rode on a broomstick on stormy nights and screeched and gibbered down the farm-house chimneys, and there were dances of old crones at Devils' Hop Yard, Witch Woods, Witch Meadows, Giant's Chair, Devil's Footprint, and Dragon's Rock. Farmers were especially fearful of a bent old hag in a red hood, who seldom appeared before dusk, but who was apt to be found crouched on their door-steps if they reached home late, her mole-covered cheeks wrinkled with a grin, two yellow fangs projecting between her lips, and a light shining from her eyes that numbed all on whom she looked. On stormy nights she would drum and rattle at windows, and by firelight and candle-light her face was seen peering through the panes.