Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete
A CHESTNUT LOG
There is no doubt that farmer Lovel had read ancient history or he would not have been so ready in the emergency that befell him one time in the last century. He had settled among the New Hampshire hills near the site that is now occupied by the village of Washington and had a real good time there with bears and Indians. It was when he was splitting rails on Lovel Mountain—they named it for him afterward—that he found himself surrounded by six Indians, who told him that he was their prisoner. He agreed that they had the advantage over him and said that he would go quietly along if they would allow him to finish the big chestnut log that he was at work on. As he was a powerful fellow and was armed with an axe worth any two of their tomahawks, and as he would be pretty sure to have the life of at least one of them if they tried to drive him faster than he wanted to go, they consented. He said that he would be ready all the sooner if they would help him to pull the big log apart, and they agreed to help him. Driving a wedge into the long split he asked them to take hold, and when they had done this he knocked out the wedge with a single blow and the twelve hands were caught tight in the closing wood. Struggle as the savages might, they could not get free, and after calmly enjoying the situation for a few minutes he walked slowly from one to the other and split open the heads of all six. Then he went to work again splitting up more chestnuts.
THE WATCHER ON WHITE ISLAND
The isles of Shoals, a little archipelago of wind and wave-swept rocks that may be seen on clear days from the New Hampshire coast, have been the scene of some mishaps and some crimes. On Boone Island, where the Nottingham galley went down one hundred and fifty years ago, the survivors turned cannibals to escape starvation, while Haley's Island is peopled by shipwrecked Spanish ghosts that hail vessels and beg for passage back to their country. The pirate Teach, or Blackbeard, used to put in at these islands to hide his treasure, and one of his lieutenants spent some time on White Island with a beautiful girl whom he had abducted from her home in Scotland and who, in spite of his rough life, had learned to love him. It was while walking with her on this rock, forgetful of his trade and the crimes he had been stained with, that one of his men ran up to report a sail that was standing toward the islands. The pirate ship was quickly prepared for action, but before embarking, mindful of possible flight or captivity, the lieutenant made his mistress swear that she would guard the buried treasure if it should be till doomsday.
The ship he was hurrying to meet came smoothly on until the pirate craft was well in range, when ports flew open along the stranger's sides, guns were run out, and a heavy broadside splintered through the planks of the robber galley. It was a man-of-war, not a merchantman, that had run Blackbeard down. The war-ship closed and grappled with the corsair, but while the sailors were standing at the chains ready to leap aboard and complete the subjugation of the outlaws a mass of flame burst from the pirate ship, both vessels were hurled in fragments through the air, and a roar went for miles along the sea. Blackbeard's lieutenant had fired the magazine rather than submit to capture, and had blown the two ships into a common ruin. A few of both crews floated to the islands on planks, sore from burns and bruises, but none survived the cold and hunger of the winter. The pirate's mistress was among the first to die; still, true to her promise, she keeps her watch, and at night is dimly seen on a rocky point gazing toward the east, her tall figure enveloped in a cloak, her golden hair unbound upon her shoulders, her pale face still as marble.
This beautiful alp in the White Mountains commemorates in its name a prophet of the Pequawket tribe who, prior to undertaking a journey, had confided his son to a friendly settler, Cornelius Campbell, of Tamworth. The boy found some poison in the house that had been prepared for foxes, and, thinking it to be some delicacy, he drank of it and died. When Chocorua returned he could not be persuaded that his son had fallen victim to his own ignorance, but ascribed his death to the white man's treachery, and one day, when Campbell entered his cabin from the fields, he found there the corpses of his wife and children scalped and mangled.