Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 91There was one who had grown old in searching for this gem, often scrambling over the range in wind and snow and cloud, and at last he reached a precipitous spot he had never attained before. Great was his joy, for the Carbuncle was within his reach, blazing into his eyes in the noon sunlight as if it held, crystallized in its depths, the brightness of all the wine that had ever gladdened the tired hearts of men. There were rivals in the search, and on reaching the plateau they looked up and saw him kneeling on a narrow ledge with arms extended as in rapture. They called to him. He answered not. He was dead—dead of joy and triumph. While they looked a portion of the crag above him fell away and rolled from rock to rock, marking its course with flashes of bloody fire, until it reached the Lake of the Clouds, and the waters of that tarn drowned its glory. Yet those waters are not always black, and sometimes the hooked crest of Mount Monroe is outlined against the night sky in a ruddy glow.
The abhorrence to paying taxes and duties—or any other levy from which an immediate and personal good is not promised—is too deeply rooted in human nature to be affected by statutes, and whenever it is possible to buy commodities that have escaped the observation of the revenue officers many are tempted to do so for the mere pleasure of defying the law. In the early part of this century the northern farmers and their wives were, in a way, providing themselves with laces, silver-ware, brandy, and other protected and dreadful articles, on which it was evident that somebody had forgotten to pay duty. The customs authorities on the American side of the border were long puzzled by the irruption of these forbidden things, but suspicion ultimately fell on a fellow of gigantic size, named Skinner.
It was believed that this outlaw carried on the crime of free trade after sunset, hiding his merchandise by day on the islands of Lake Memphremagog. This delightful sheet of water lies half in Canada and half in Vermont—agreeably to the purpose of such as he. Province Island is still believed to contain buried treasure, but the rock that contains Skinner's Cave was the smuggler's usual haunt, and when pursued he rowed to this spot and effected a disappearance, because he entered the cave on the northwest side, where it was masked by shrubbery. One night the officers landed on this island after he had gone into hiding, and after diligent search discovered his boat drawn up in a covert. They pushed it into the lake, where the winds sent it adrift, and, his communication with the shore thus cut off, the outlaw perished miserably of hunger. His skeleton was found in the cavern some years later.
YET THEY CALL IT LOVER'S LEAP
In the lower part of the township of Cavendish, Vermont, the Black River seeks a lower level through a gorge in the foot-hills of the Green Mountains. The scenery here is romantic and impressive, for the river makes its way along the ravine in a series of falls and rapids that are overhung by trees and ledges, while the geologist finds something worth looking at in the caves and pot-holes that indicate an older level of the river. At a turn in the ravine rises the sheer precipice of Lover's Leap. It is a vertical descent of about eighty feet, the water swirling at its foot in a black and angry maelstrom. It is a spot whence lovers might easily step into eternity, were they so disposed, and the name fits delightfully into the wild and somber scene; but ask any good villager thereabout to relate the legend of the place and he will tell you this: