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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 89

The birth of Peabody River came about from a cataclysm of less violent nature than some of the avalanches that have so scarred the mountains. In White's "History of New England," Mr. Peabody, for whom the stream is named, is reported as having taken shelter in an Indian cabin on the heights where the river has its source. During the night a loud roaring waked the occupants of the hut and they sprang forth, barely in time to save their lives; for, hardly had they gained the open ground before a cavern burst open in the hill and a flood of water gushed out, sweeping away the shelter and cutting a broad swath through the forest.

Although the Pilot Mountains are supposed to have taken their name from the fact that they served as landmarks to hunters who were seeking the Connecticut River from the Lancaster district, an old story is still told of one Willard, who was lost amid the defiles of this range, and nearly perished with hunger. While lying exhausted on the mountainside his dog would leave him every now and then and return after a couple of hours. Though Willard was half dead, he determined to use his last strength in following the animal, and as a result was led by a short cut to his own camp, where provisions were plenty, and where the intelligent creature had been going for food. The dog was christened Pilot, in honor of this service, and the whole range is thought by many to be named in his honor.

Waternomee Falls, on Hurricane Creek, at Warren, are bordered with rich moss where fairies used to dance and sing in the moonlight. These sprites were the reputed children of Indians that had been stolen from their wigwams and given to eat of fairy bread, that dwarfed and changed them in a moment. Barring their kidnapping practices the elves were an innocent and joyous people, and they sought more distant hiding-places in the wilderness when the stern churchmen and cruel rangers penetrated their sylvan precincts.

An old barrack story has it that Lieutenant Chamberlain, who fought under Lovewell, was pursued along the base of Melvin Peak by Indians and was almost in their grasp when he reached Ossipee Falls. It seemed as if there were no alternative between death by the tomahawk and death by a fall to the rocks below, for the chasm here is eighteen feet wide; but without stopping to reckon chances he put his strength into a running jump, and to the amazement of those in pursuit and perhaps to his own surprise he cleared the gap and escaped into the woods. The foremost of the Indians attempted the leap, but plunged to his death in the ravine.

The Eagle Range was said to be the abode, two hundred years ago, of a man of strange and venerable appearance, whom the Indians regarded with superstitious awe and never tried to molest. He slept in a cave on the south slope and ranged the forest in search of game, muttering and gesturing to himself. He is thought to be identified with Thomas Crager, whose wife had been hanged in Salem as a witch, and whose only child had been stolen by Indians. After a long, vain search for the little one he gave way to a bitter moroseness, and avoided the habitations of civilized man and savages alike. It is a satisfaction to know that before he died he found his daughter, though she was the squaw of an Indian hunter and was living with his tribe on the shore of the St. Lawrence.


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