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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 72

In due time she went with her affianced to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia, and became mistress of the Fairfax mansion. But she never liked the English, as a people, and when, in later years, two sturdy sons of hers asked leave to join the Continental army, she readily consented.





FLAME SCALPS OF THE CHARTIERS

Before Pittsburg had become worthy to be called a settlement, a white man rowed his boat to the mouth of Chartiers creek, near that present city. He was seeking a place in which to make his home, and a little way up-stream, where were timber, water, and a southern slope, he marked a "tomahawk claim," and set about clearing the land. Next year his wife, two children, and his brother came to occupy the cabin he had built, and for a long time all went happily, but on returning from a long hunt the brothers found the little house in ashes and the charred remains of its occupants in the ruins. Though nearly crazed by this catastrophe they knew that their own lives were in hourly peril, and they wished to live until they could punish the savages for this crime. After burying the bodies, they started east across the hills, leaving a letter on birch bark in a cleft stick at the mouth of Chartiers creek, in which the tragedy was recounted.

This letter was afterward found by trappers. The men themselves were never heard from, and it is believed that they, too, fell at the hands of the Indians. Old settlers used to affirm that on summer nights the cries of the murdered innocents could be heard in the little valley where the cabin stood, and when storms were coming up these cries were often blended with the yells of savages. More impressive are the death lights—the will-o'-the-wisps—that wander over the scene of the tragedy, and up and down the neighboring slopes. These apparitions are said to be the spirits of husband and wife seeking each other, or going together in search of their children; but some declare that in their upward streaming rays it can readily be seen that they are the scalps of the slain. Two of them have a golden hue, and these are the scalps of the children. From beneath them drops of red seem to distil on the grass and are found to have bedewed the flowers on the following morning.





THE CONSECRATION OF WASHINGTON

In 1773 some of the Pietist monks were still living in their rude monastery whose ruins are visible on the banks of the Wissahickon. Chief among these mystics was an old man who might have enjoyed the wealth and distinction warranted by a title had he chosen to remain in Germany, but he had forsworn vanities, and had come to the new world to pray, to rear his children, and to live a simple life. Some said he was an alchemist, and many believed him to be a prophet. The infrequent wanderer beside the romantic river had seen lights burning in the window of his cell and had heard the solemn sound of song and prayer. On a winter night, when snow lay untrodden about the building and a sharp air stirred in the trees with a sound like harps, the old man sat in a large room of the place, with his son and daughter, waiting. For a prophecy had run that on that night, at the third hour of morning, the Deliverer would present himself. In a dream was heard a voice, saying, "I will send a deliverer to the new world who shall save my people from bondage, as my Son saved them from spiritual death." The night wore on in prayer and meditation, and the hours tolled heavily across the frozen wilderness, but, at the stroke of three, steps were heard in the snow and the door swung open. The man who entered was of great stature, with a calm, strong face, a powerful frame, and a manner of dignity and grace.


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