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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 224

In May, 1892, the last demonstration was made in the hearing of John Willis, a United States marshal, who was hunting horse-thieves. He was belated one night and entered the vale of mounds, for he had no scruples against sleeping there. He had not, in fact, ever heard that the region was haunted. The snorting of his horse in the middle of the night awoke him and he sprang to his feet, thinking that savages, outlaws, or, at least, coyotes had disturbed the animal. Although there was a good moon, he could see nothing moving on the plain. Yet the sounds that filled the air were like the noise of an army, only a trifle subdued, as if they were borne on the passing of a wind. The rush of hoofs and of feet, the striking of blows, the fall of bodies could be heard, and for nearly an hour these fell rumors went across the earth. At last the horse became so frantic that Willis saddled him and rode away, and as he reached the edge of the valley the sounds were heard going into the distance. Not until he reached a settlement did he learn of the spell that rested on the place.





ON THE PACIFIC COAST





THE VOYAGER OF WHULGE

Like the ancient Greeks, the Siwash of the Northwest invest the unseen world with spiritual intelligence. Every tree has a soul; the forests were peopled with good and evil genii, the latter receiving oblation at the devil-dances, for it was not worth while to appease those already good; and the mountains are the home of tamanouses, or guardian spirits, that sometimes fight together—as, when the spirits of Mount Tacoma engaged with those of Mount Hood, fire and melted stone burst from their peaks, their bellowing was heard afar, and some of the rocks flung by Tacoma fell short, blocking the Columbia about the Dalles.

Across these fantastic reports of older time there come echoes of a later instruction, adapted and blended into native legend so that the point of division cannot be indicated. Such is that of the mysterious voyager of the Whulge—the Siwash name for the sound that takes the name of Puget from one of Vancouver's officers. Across this body of water the stranger came in a copper canoe that borrowed the glories of the morning. When he had landed and sent for all the red men, far and near, he addressed to them a doctrine that provoked expressions of contempt—a doctrine of love.

To fight and steal no more, to give of their goods to men in need, to forgive their enemies,—they could not understand such things. He promised—this radiant stranger—to those who lived right, eternal life on seas and hills more fair than these of earth, but they did not heed him. At last, wearying of his talk, they dragged him to a tree and nailed him fast to it, with pegs through his hands and feet, and jeered and danced about him, as they did about their victims in the devil-dance, until his head fell on his breast and his life went out.


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