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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 235

Gardiner's Island, Dunderberg, Cro' Nest, New York City, Coney Island, Ipswich, the marshes back of Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Isles of Shoals, Money Island, Ocean Beach, the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, and elsewhere has caused reckless expenditure of actual wealth in recovering doubloons and guineas that disappointed backers of these enterprises are beginning to look upon—no, not to look upon, but to think about—as visionary. A hope of getting something for nothing has been the impetus to these industries, and interest in the subject is now and then revived by reports of the discovery—usually by a farmer ploughing near the shore—of an iron kettle with a handful of gold and silver coins in it, the same having doubtless been buried for purposes of concealment during the wars of 1776 and 1812.

Gardiner's Island, a famous rendezvous for pirates, is the only place known to have been used as a bank of deposit, for in 1699 the Earl of Bellomont recovered from it seven hundred and eighty-three ounces of gold, six hundred and thirty-three ounces of silver, cloth of gold, silks, satins, and jewels. In the old Gardiner mansion, on this island, was formerly preserved a costly shawl given to Mrs. Gardiner by Captain Kidd himself. This illustrious Kidd—or Kydd—was born in New York, began his naval career as a chaser of pirates, became a robber himself, was captured in Boston, where he was ruffling boldly about the streets, and was hanged in London in 1701. In sea superstitions the apparition of his ship is sometimes confused with that of the Flying Dutchman.

At Lion's Rock, near Lyme, Connecticut, a part of his treasure is under guard of a demon that springs upon intruders unless they recite Scripture while digging for the money.

Charles Island, near Milford, Connecticut, was dug into, one night, by a company from that town that had learned of Kidd's visit to it—and what could Kidd be doing ashore unless he was burying money? The lid of an iron chest had been uncovered when the figure of a headless man came bounding out of the air, and the work was discontinued right then. The figure leaped into the pit that had been dug, and blue flames poured out of it. When the diggers returned, their spades and picks were gone and the ground was smooth.

Monhegan Island, off the Maine coast, contains a cave, opening to the sea, where it was whispered that treasure had been stored in care of spirits. Searchers found within it a heavy chest, which they were about to lift when one of the party—contrary to orders—spoke. The spell was broken, for the watchful spirits heard and snatched away the treasure. Some years ago the cave was enlarged by blasting, in a hope of finding that chest, for an old saying has been handed down among the people of the island—from whom it came they have forgotten—that was to this effect: "Dig six feet and you will find iron; dig six more and you will find money."

On Damariscotta Island, near Kennebec, Maine, is a lake of salt water, which, like dozens of shallow ones in this country, is locally reputed to be bottomless. Yet Kidd was believed to have sunk some of his valuables there, and to have guarded against the entrance of boats by means of a chain hung from rock to rock at the narrow entrance, bolts on either side showing the points of attachment, while ring bolts were thought to have been driven for the purpose of tying buoys, thus marking the spots where the chests went down. This island, too, has been held in fear as haunted ground.

Appledore, in the Isles of Shoals, was another such a hiding-place, and Kidd put one of his crew to death that he might haunt the place and frighten searchers from their quest. For years no fisherman could be induced to land there after nightfall, for did not an islander once encounter "Old Bab" on his rounds, with a red ring around his neck, a frock hanging about him, phosphorescence gleaming from his body, who peered at the intruder with a white and dreadful face, and nearly scared him to death?


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