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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 171

It was but a few nights after this that the Rev. Henry Galbraith returned from a visit of a month to Cincinnati and reached his home after a night of boisterous storm. The snow was so deep and the roads so blocked with windfalls that he put up his horse in Gallipolis and started for his house on foot.

"But where did you pass the night?" inquired his wife, after the greetings were over. "With old Deluse in the Isle of Pines," he answered. "I saw a light moving about the house, and rapped. No one came; so, as I was freezing, I forced open the door, built a fire, and lay down in my coat before it. Old Deluse came in presently and I apologized, but he paid no attention to me. He seemed to be walking in his sleep and to be searching for something. All night long I could hear his footsteps about the house, in pauses of the storm."

The clergyman's wife and son looked at each other, and a friend who was present—a lawyer, named Maren—remarked, "You did not know that Deluse was dead and buried?" The clergyman was speechless with amazement. "You have been dreaming," said the lawyer. "Still, if you like, we will go there to-night and investigate."

The clergyman, his son, and the lawyer went to the house about nine o'clock, and as they approached it a noise of fighting came from within—blows, the clink of steel, groans, and curses. Lights appeared, first at one window, then at another. The men rushed forward, burst in the door, and were inside—in darkness and silence. They had brought candles and lighted them, but the light revealed nothing. Dust lay thick on the floor except in the room where the clergyman had passed the previous night, and the door that he had then opened stood ajar, but the snow outside was drifted and unbroken by footsteps. Then came the sound of a fall that shook the building. At the same moment it was noticed by the other two men that young Galbraith was absent. They hurried into the room whence the noise had come. A board was wrenched from the wall there, disclosing a hollow that had been used for a hiding-place, and on the floor lay young Galbraith with a sack of Spanish coins in his hand. His father stooped to pick him up, but staggered back in horror, for the young man's life had gone. A post-mortem examination revealed no cause of death, and a rustic jury again laid it to a "visitation of God." MARQUETTE'S MAN-EATER

Until it was worn away by the elements a curious relief was visible on the bluffs of the Mississippi near Alton, Illinois. It was to be seen as late as 1860, and represented a monster once famous as the "piasa bird." Father Marquette not only believed it but described it as a man-eater in the account of his explorations, where he mentions other zoological curiosities, such as unicorns with shaggy mane and land-turtles three feet long with two heads, "very mischievous and addicted to biting." He even showed a picture of the maneater that accorded rudely with the picture on the rocks. It was said to prey on human flesh, and to be held in fear by the Indians, who encountered it on and near the Mississippi. It had the body of a panther, wings like a bat, and head and horns of a deer. Father Marquette gave it a human face. The sculpture was undoubtedly made by Indians, but its resemblance to the winged bulls of Assyria and the sphinxes of Egypt has been quoted as confirmation of a prehistoric alliance of Old and New World races or the descent of one from the other. It has also been thought to stand for the totem of some great chief-symbolizing, by its body, strength; by its wings, speed; by its head, gentleness and beauty. But may not the tradition of it have descended from the discovery of comparatively late remains, by primitive man, of the winged saurians that crawled, swam, dived, or flew, lingering on till the later geologic period? The legend of the man-eater may even have been told by those who killed the last of the pterodactyls.


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