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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 83





THE MARRIAGE OF MOUNT KATAHDIN

An Indian girl gathering berries on the side of Mount Katahdin looked up at its peak, rosy in the afternoon light, and sighed, "I wish that I had a husband. If Katahdin were a man he might marry me." Her companions laughed at this quaint conceit, and, filled with confusion at being overheard, she climbed higher up the slope and was lost to sight. For three years her tribe lost sight of her; then she came back with a child in her arms a beautiful boy with brows of stone. The boy had wonderful power: he had only to point at a moose or a duck or a bear, and it fell dead, so that the tribe never wanted food. For he was the son of the Indian girl and the spirit of the mountain, who had commanded her not to reveal the boy's paternity. Through years she held silence on this point, holding in contempt, like other Indians, the prying inquiries of gossips and the teasing of young people, and knowing that Katahdin had designed the child for the founder of a mighty race, with the sinews of the very mountains in its frame, that should fill and rule the earth. Yet, one day, in anger at some slight, the mother spoke: "Fools! Wasps who sting the fingers that pick you from the water! Why do you torment me about what you might all see? Look at the boy's face—his brows: in them do you not see Katahdin? Now you have brought the curse upon yourselves, for you shall hunt your own venison from this time forth." Leading the child by the hand she turned toward the mountain and went out from their sight. And since then the Indians who could not hold their tongues, and who might otherwise have been great, have dwindled to a little people.





THE MOOSE OF MOUNT KINEO

Eastern traditions concerning Hiawatha differ in many respects from those of the West. In the East he is known as Glooskap, god of the Passamaquoddies, and his marks are left in many places in the maritime provinces and Maine. It was he who gave names to things, created men, filled them with life, and moved their wonder with storms. He lived on the rocky height of Blomidon, at the entrance to Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, and the agates to be found along its foot are jewels that he made for his grandmother's necklace, when he restored her youth. He threw up a ridge between Fort Cumberland and Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, that he might cross, dry shod, the lake made by the beavers when they dammed the strait at Blomidon, but he afterward killed the beavers, and breaking down their dam he let the lake flow into the sea, and went southward on a hunting tour. At Mount Desert he killed a moose, whose bones he flung to the ground at Bar Harbor, where they are still to be seen, turned to stone, while across the bay he threw the entrails, and they, too, are visible as rocks, dented with his arrow-points. Mount Kineo was anciently a cow moose of colossal size that he slew and turned into a height of land, and the Indians trace the outline of the creature in the uplift to this day. Little Kineo was a calf moose that he slew at the same time, and Kettle Mountain is his camp-caldron that he flung to the ground in the ardor of the chase.





THE OWL TREE

One day in October, 1827, Rev. Charles Sharply rode into Alfred, Maine, and held service in the meeting-house. After the sermon he announced that he was going to Waterborough to preach, and that on his circuit he had collected two hundred and seventy dollars to help build a church in that village. Would not his hearers add to that sum? They would and did, and that evening the parson rode away with over three hundred dollars in his saddlebags. He never appeared in Waterborough. Some of the country people gave tongue to their fear that the possession of the money had made him forget his sacred calling and that he had fled the State.

On the morning after his disappearance, however, Deacon Dickerman appeared in Alfred riding on a horse that was declared to be the minister's, until the tavern hostler affirmed that the minister's horse had a white star on forehead and breast, whereas this horse was all black. The deacon said that he found the horse grazing in his yard at daybreak, and that he would give it to whoever could prove it to be his property. Nobody appeared to demand it, and people soon forgot that it was not his. He extended his business at about that time and prospered; he became a rich man for a little place; though, as his wealth increased, he became morose and averse to company.


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