Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 247

Even the humble Wabash has its terror, for at Huntington, Indiana, three truthful damsels of the town saw its waters churned by a tail that splashed from side to side, while far ahead was the prow of the animal—a leonine skull, with whiskers, and as large as the head of a boy of a dozen years. As if realizing what kind of a report was going to be made about him, the monster was overcome with bashfulness at the sight of the maidens and sank from view.

In April, 1890, a water-snake was reported in one of the Twin Lakes, in the Berkshire Hills, but the eye-witnesses of his sports let him off with a length of twenty-five feet.

Sysladobosis Lake, in Maine, has a snake with a head like a dog's, but it is hardly worth mentioning because it is only eight feet long-hardly longer than the name of the lake. More enterprise is shown across the border, for Skiff Lake, New Brunswick, has a similar snake thirty feet long.

In Cotton Mather's time a double-headed snake was found at Newbury, Massachusetts,—it had a head at each end,—and before it was killed it showed its evil disposition by chasing and striking at the lad who first met it.

A snake haunts Wolf Pond, Pennsylvania, that is an alleged relic of the Silurian age. It was last seen in September, 1887, when it unrolled thirty feet of itself before the eyes of an alarmed spectator—again a fisherman. The beholder struck him with a pole, and in revenge the serpent capsized his boat; but he forbore to eat his enemy, and, diving to the bottom, disappeared. The creature had a black body, about six inches thick, ringed with dingy-yellow bands, and a mottled-green head, long and pointed, like a pike's.

Silver Lake, near Gainesville, New York, was in 1855 reported to be the lair of a great serpent, and old settlers declare that he still comes to the surface now and then.

A tradition among the poor whites of the South Jruns to the effect that the sea-monster that swallowed Jonah—not a whale, because the throat of that animal is hardly large enough to admit a herring—crossed the Atlantic and brought up at the Carolinas. His passenger was supplied with tobacco and beguiled the tedium of the voyage by smoking a pipe. The monster, being unused to that sort of thing, suffered as all beginners in nicotine poisoning do, and expelled the unhappy man with emphasis. On being safely landed, Jonah attached himself to one of the tribes that peopled the barrens, and left a white progeny which antedated Columbus's arrival by several centuries. God pitied the helplessness of these ignorant and uncourageous whites and led them to Looking-Glass Mountain, North Carolina, where He caused corn and game to be created, and while this race endured it lived in plenty.

Santa Barbara Island, off the California coast, was, for a long time, the supposed head-quarters of swimming and flying monsters and sirens, and no Mexican would pass in hearing of the yells and screams and strange songs without crossing himself and begging the captain to give the rock a wide berth. But the noise is all the noise of cats. A shipwrecked tabby peopled the place many years ago, and her numerous progeny live there on dead fish and on the eggs and chicks of sea-fowl.