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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 259

Some years before the outbreak of the Civil War a man with his wife and daughter took up their residence in a log cabin at the foot of Sunrise Rock, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. It seemed probable that they had known better days, for the head of the household was notoriously useless in the eyes of his neighbors, and was believed to get his living through "writin' or book-larnin'," but he was so quiet and gentle that they never upbraided him, and would sometimes, after making a call, wander into his garden and casually weed it for him for an hour or so. The girl, Stella, was a well-schooled, quick-witted, rosy-cheeked lass, whom all the shaggy, big-jointed farmer lads of the neighborhood regarded with hopeless admiration. A year or two after the settlement of the family it began to be noticed that she was losing color and had an anxious look, and when a friendly old farmer saw her talking in the lane with a lawyer from Chattanooga, who wore broadcloth and had a gold watch, he was puzzled that the "city chap" did not go home with her, but kissed his hand to her as he turned away. Afterward the farmer met the pair again, and while the girl smiled and said, "Howdy, Uncle Joe?" the lawyer turned away and looked down the river. It was the last time that a smile was seen on Stella's face. A few evenings later she was seen standing on Sunrise Rock, with her look bent on Chattanooga. The shadow of night crept up the cliff until only her figure stood in sunlight, with her hair like a golden halo about her face. At that moment came on the wind the sound of bells-wedding-bells. Pressing her hands to her ears, the girl walked to the edge of the rock, and a few seconds later her lifeless form rolled through the bushes at its foot into the road. At her funeral the people came from far and near to offer sympathy to the mother, garbed in black, and the father, with his hair turned white, but the lawyer from Chattanooga was not there.

The name of Indian Maiden's Cliff—applied to a precipice that hangs above the wild ravine of Stony Clove, in the Catskills—commemorates the sequel to an elopement from her tribe of an Indian girl and her lover. The parents and relatives had opposed the match with that fatal fatuity that appears to be characteristic of story-book Indians, and as soon as word of her flight came to the village they set off in chase. While hurrying through the tangled wood the young couple were separated and the girl found herself on the edge of the cliff. Farther advance was impossible. Her pursuers were close behind. She must yield or die. She chose not to yield, and, with a despairing cry, flung herself into the shadows.

Similar to this is the tale of Lover's Leap in the dells of the Sioux, among the Black Hills of South Dakota.


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