Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 102


Three miles out from the Nahant shore, Massachusetts, rises Egg Rock, a dome of granite topped by a light-house. In the last century the forget-me-nots that grew in a little marsh at its summit were much esteemed, for it was reported that if a girl should receive one of these little flowers from her lover the two would be faithful to each other through all their married life. It was before a temporary separation that a certain young couple strolled together on the Nahant cliffs. The man was to sail for Italy next day, to urge parental consent to their union. As he looked dreamily into the sea the legend of the forget-me-not came into his mind, and in a playful tone he offered to gather a bunch as a memento. Unthinkingly the girl consented. He ran down the cliff to his boat, pushed out, and headed toward the rock, but a fisherman shouted that a gale was rising and the tide was coming in; indeed, the horizon was whitening and the rote was growing plain.

Alice had heard the cry of warning and would have called him back, but she was forsaken by the power of speech, and watched, with pale face and straining eyes, the boat beating smartly across the surges. It was seen to reach Egg Rock, and after a lapse came dancing toward the shore again; but the tide, was now swirling in rapidly, the waves were running high, and the wind freshened as the sun sank. At times the boat was out of sight in the hollowed water, and as it neared Nahant it became unmanageable. Apparently it had filled with water and the tiller-rope had broken. Nothing could be done by the spectators who had gathered on the rocks, except to shout directions that were futile, even if they could be heard. At last the boat was lifted by a breaker and hurled against a mass of granite at the very feet of the man's mistress. When the body was recovered next day, a bunch of forget-me-not was clasped in the rigid hand.


The "old powder-house," as the round stone tower is called that stands on a gravel ridge in Somerville, Massachusetts, is so named because at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War it was used temporarily as a magazine; but long before that it was a wind-mill. Here in the old days two lovers held their tryst: a sturdy and honest young farmer of the neighborhood and the daughter of a man whose wealth puffed him with purse-pride. It was the plebeian state of the farmer that made him look at him with an unfavorable countenance, and when it was whispered to him that the young people were meeting each other almost every evening at the mill, he resolved to surprise them there and humiliate, if he did not punish them. From the shadow of the door they saw his approach, and, yielding to the girl's imploring, the lover secreted himself while she climbed to the loft. The flutter of her dress caught the old man's eye and he hastened, panting, into the mill. For some moments he groped about, for his eyes had not grown used to the darkness of the place, and hearing his muttered oaths, the girl crept backward from the stair.

She was beginning to hope that she had not been seen, when her foot caught in a loose board and she stumbled, but in her fall she threw out her hand to save herself and found a rope within her grasp. Directly that her weight had been applied to it there was a whir and a clank. The cord had set the great fans in motion. At the same moment a fall was heard, then a cry, passing from anger into anguish. She rushed down the stair, the lover appeared from his hiding-place at the same moment, and together they dragged the old man to his feet. At the moment when the wind had started the sails he had been standing on one of the mill-stones and the sudden jerk had thrown him down. His arm caught between the grinding surfaces and had been crushed to pulp. He was carried home and tenderly nursed, but he did not live long; yet before he died he was made to see the folly of his course, and he consented to the marriage that it had cost him so dear to try to prevent. Before she could summon heart to fix the wedding-day the girl passed many months of grief and repentance, and for the rest of her life she avoided the old mill. There was good reason for doing so, people said, for on windy nights the spirit of the old man used to haunt the place, using such profanity that it became visible in the form of blue lights, dancing and exploding about the building.


Nothing is left of Province House, the old home of the royal governors, in Boston, but the gilded Indian that served as its weathercock and aimed his arrow at the winds from the cupola. The house itself was swept away long ago in the so-called march of improvement. In one of its rooms hung a picture so dark that when Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson went to live there hardly anybody could say what it represented. There were hints that it was a portrait of the devil, painted at a witch-meeting near Salem, and that on the eve of disasters in the province a dreadful face had glared from the canvas. Shirley had seen it on the night of the fall of Ticonderoga, and servants had gone shuddering from the room, certain that they had caught the glance of a malignant eye.