Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
THE SNORING OF SWUNKSUS
The original proprietor of Deer Isle, off the coast of Maine—at least, the one who was in possession one hundred and thirty years ago—had the liquid name of Swunksus. His name was not the only liquid thing in the neighborhood, however, for, wherever Swunksus was, fire-water was not far. Shortly before the Revolution a renegade from Boston, one Conary, moved up to the island and helped himself to as much of it as he chose, but the longer he lived there the more he wanted. Swunksus was willing enough to divide his domain with the white intruder, but Conary was not satisfied with half. He did not need it all; he just wanted it. Moreover, he grew quarrelsome and was continually nagging poor Swunksus, until at last he forced the Indian to accept a challenge, not to immediate combat, but to fight to the death should they meet thereafter.
The red man retired to his half of the island and hid among the bushes near his home to await the white man, but in this little fastness he discovered a jug of whiskey that either fate or Conary had placed there. Before an hour was over he was "as full and mellow as a harvest moon," and it was then that his enemy appeared. There was no trouble in finding Swunksus, for he was snoring like a fog horn, and walking boldly up to him, Conary blew his head off with a load of slugs. Then he took possession of the place and lived happily ever after. Swunksus takes his deposition easily, for, although he has more than once paraded along the beaches, his ghost spends most of the time in slumber, and terrific snores have been heard proceeding from the woods in daylight.
THE LEWISTON HERMIT
On an island above the falls of the Androscoggin, at Lewiston, Maine, lived a white recluse at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The natives, having had good reason to mistrust all palefaces, could think no good of the man who lived thus among but not with them. Often they gathered at the bank and looked across at his solitary candle twinkling among the leaves, and wondered what manner of evil he could be planning against them. Wherever there are many conspirators one will be a gabbler or a traitor; so, when the natives had resolved on his murder, he, somehow, learned of their intent and set himself to thwart it. So great was their fear of this lonely man, and of the malignant powers he might conjure to his aid, that nearly fifty Indians joined the expedition, to give each other courage.
Their plan was to go a little distance up the river and come down with the current, thus avoiding the dip of paddles that he might hear in a direct crossing. When it was quite dark they set off, and keeping headway on their canoes aimed them toward the light that glimmered above the water. But the cunning hermit had no fire in his cabin that night. It was burning on a point below his shelter, and from his hiding-place among the rocks he saw their fleet, as dim and silent as shadows, go by him on the way to the misguiding beacon.