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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 230

But, ere long, he repented his anger, and, in a fit of impatience at what he had done, he threw up quantities of earth that smoked with heat, and thus created the Sierra Nevada, while he broke away the hills at the foot of the lake, and the waters drained into the sea at the Golden Gate. This again made dry land of the valley, and, opening the earth once more, he released the captive tribe. The imprisoned people had not forgotten their arts nor their boldness; they made the place blossom again; they conquered other tribes, and Manitou declared them his chosen ones, from whom alone he would accept sacrifice. But their chief became so ambitious that he wanted to supplant the Manitou in the worship of the people, and finally, in a lunacy of self-conceit, he challenged the god to single combat.

Under pretence of accepting the challenge, the Great Spirit set the offenders to wander through the desert until they reached a valley in the Sierras, opposite Tehachapi, where he caused them to be exterminated by a horde of savages from the Mojave desert. Then, in a fit of disgust at refractory humanity, he evoked a whirlwind and stripped away every living thing from the country of the savages, declaring that it should be empty of human beings from that time forward. And it was so.





THE SPOOK OF MISERY HILL

Tom Bowers, who mined on Misery Hill, near Pike City, California, never had a partner, and he never took kindly to the rough crowd about the place. One day he was missing. They traced his steps through the snow from his cabin to the brink of a great slope where he had been prospecting, but there they vanished, for a landslide had blotted them out. His body was exhumed far below and decently buried, yet it was said that it was so often seen walking about the mouth of his old shaft that other men avoided the spot.

Thriftless Jim Brandon, in a spasm of industry, began work on the abandoned mine, and for a while he made it pay, for he got money and squared accounts with his creditors; but after a time it appeared that somebody else was working on the claim, for every morning he found that the sluice had been tampered with and the water turned on. He searched for the trespasser in vain, and told "the boys" that if they called that joking it had grown tiresome.

One night he loaded his rifle, and, from a convenient nook, he watched for the intruder. The tamaracks crooned in the wind, the Yuba mumbled in the canon, the Sierras lay in a line of white against the stars. As he crept along to a point of better vantage he came to a tree with something tacked on it—something that shone in the dark like a match. In its own light he read, "Notice! I, Thomas Bowers, claim this ground for placer mining." Raising his hand to tear off the paper, he was amazed to feel a thrill pass through it, and his arm fell palsied at his side. But the notice was gone.


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