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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 262

Other ark and deluge legends relate to the Superstition Mountains, in Arizona, Caddoes village, on Red River, Cerro Naztarny, on the Rio Grande, the peak of Old Zuni, in Mexico, Colhuacan, on the Pacific coast, Mount Apaola, in upper Mixteca, and Mount Neba, in Guaymi. The Northwestern Indians tell of a flood in which all perished save one man, who fled to Mount Tacoma. To prevent him from being swept away a spirit turned him into stone. When the flood had fallen the deity took one of his ribs and made a woman of it. Then he touched the stone man back to life.

There were descendants of Manitou on the mountains, too, of North Carolina, but the Cherokees believe that those heights are bare because the devil strode over them on his way to the Devil's Court House (Transylvania County, North Carolina), where he sat in judgment and claimed his own. Monsters were found in the White Mountains. Devil's Den, on the face of Mount Willard, was the lair of one of them—a strange, winged creature that strewed the floor of its cave with brute and human skeletons, after preying on their flesh.

The ideas of supernatural occurrences in these New Hampshire hills obtained until a recent date, and Sunday Mountain is a monument to the dire effects of Sabbath-breaking that was pointed out to several generations of New Hampshire youth for their moral betterment. The story goes that a man of the adjacent town of Oxford took a walk one Sunday, when he should have taken himself to church; and, straying into the woods here, he was delivered into the claws and maws of an assemblage of bears that made an immediate and exemplary conclusion of him.

The grand portrait in rock in Profile Notch was regarded with reverence by the few red men who ventured into that lonely defile. When white men saw it they said it resembled Washington, and a Yankee orator is quoted as saying, "Men put out signs representing their different trades. Jewellers hang out a monster watch, shoemakers a huge boot, and, up in Franconia, God Almighty has hung out a sign that in New England He makes men."

To Echo Lake, close by, the deity was wont to repair that he might contemplate the beauties of nature, and the clear, repeated echoes were his voice, speaking in gentleness or anger. Moosilauke—meaning a bald place, and wrongly called Moose Hillock—was declared by Waternomee, chief of the Pemigewassets, to be the home of the Great Spirit, and the first time that red men tried to gain the summit they returned in fear, crying that Gitche Manitou was riding home in anger on a storm—which presently, indeed, burst over the whole country. Few Indians dared to climb the mountain after that, and the first fruits of the harvest and first victims of the chase were offered in propitiation to the deity. At Seven Cascades, on its eastern slope, one of Rogers's Rangers, retreating after the Canadian foray, fell to the ground, too tired for further motion, when a distant music of harps mingled with the cascade's plash, and directly the waters were peopled with forms glowing with silver-white, like the moonstone, that rose and circled, hand in hand, singing gayly as they did so. The air then seemed to be flooded with rosy light and thousands of sylvan genii ascended altars of rock, by steps of rainbow, to offer incense and greet the sun with song. A dark cloud passed, daylight faded, and a vision arose of the massacre at St. Francis, a retreat through untried wilderness, a feast on human heads, torture, and death; then his senses left the worn and starving man. But a trapper who had seen his trail soon reached him and led him to a friendly settlement, where he was told that only to those who were about to take their leave of earth was it given to know those spirits of fountain and forest that offered their voices, on behalf of nature, in praise of the Great Spirit. To those of grosser sense, on whom the weight of worldliness still rested, this halcyon was never revealed.


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