Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
Page: 99The Shakers report that in the waning of the eighteenth century they chased the evil one through the coverts of Mount Sinai, Massachusetts, and just before dawn of a summer morning they caught and killed and buried him. Shakers are spiritualists, and they believe their numbers to have been augmented by distinguished dead, among whom they already number Washington, Lafayette, Napoleon, Tamerlane, and Pocahontas. The two first named of these posthumous communists are still seen by members of the faith who pass Satan's grave at night, for they sit astride of white horses and watch the burial spot, lest the enemy of man arise and begin anew his career of trouble. Some members of the brotherhood say that this legend typifies a burial of evil tendencies in the hearts of those who hunted the fiend, but it has passed down among others as a circumstance. The Shakers have many mystic records, transmitted verbally to the present disciples of "Mother Ann," but seldom told to scoffers "in the world," as those are called who live without their pure and peaceful communes. Among these records is that of the appearance of John the Baptist in the meeting-house at Mount Lebanon, New York, one Sunday, clothed in light and leading the sacred dance of the worshippers, by which they signify the shaking out of all carnal things from the heart.
PETER RUGG, THE MISSING MAN
The idea of long wandering as a penalty, symbolized in "The Wandering Jew," "The Flying Dutchman," and the character of Kundry, in "Parsifal," has application in the legend of Peter Rugg. This strange man, who lived in Middle Street, Boston, with his wife and daughter, was esteemed, as a person of probity and good manners except in his swearing fits, for he was subject to outbursts of passion, when he would kick his way through doors instead of opening them, bite tenpenny nails in two, and curse his wig off In the autumn of 1770 he visited Concord, with his little girl, and on the way home was overtaken by a violent storm. He took shelter with a friend at Menotomy, who urged him to stay all night, for the rain was falling heavier every moment; but Rugg would not be stayed, and seeing that there was no hope of a dry journey back to town he roared a fearful oath and cried, "Let the storm increase. I will see home to-night in spite of it, or may I never see home!" With that he tossed the child into the open chaise, leaped in after her, lashed his horse, and was off.
Several nights afterward, while Rugg's neighbors were out with lanterns trying to discover the cause of a heavy jarring that had begun to disturb them in bad weather, the excitable gentleman, who had not been seen since his Concord visit, came whirling along the pavement in his carriage, his daughter beside him, his black horse plunging on in spite of his efforts to stop him. The lanterns that for a moment twinkled in Peter's face showed him as a wet and weary man, with eyes turned up longingly at the windows where his wife awaited him; then he was gone, and the ground trembled as with an earthquake, while the rain fell more heavily.