Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snake Legend

An Indian tread! I know the stealthy sound;
'Tis on some quest of evil, through the grass
Gliding so serpent-like...
"It has been mentioned that the height now known as High Rock was formerly known as Squaw Rock. There are several legends connected with this name, which seem to be variations on a single theme. One of them runs as follows:
Some two hundred years ago, when Indian maidens wandered over the mountains, or paddled their light canoes, and sang like Laughing Water, ' Thinking of a hunter, From another tribe and country,'while the traders came from the coast, and sought to bribe the chieftain Toby, with a quart of rum, to give his daughter to the whites. But she, being as the sequel proves romantically inclined, begged that she might have one-half of the rum before giving her consent. She drank it and fled from her father's wigwam. Failing to return soon, Toby and his warriors started in pursuit of her. Coming out upon the top of Toby's Rock, and looking across the Glen, Toby discovered his daughter standing alone upon Squaw Rock. The maiden perceiving that she was discovered sprang to the edge of the cliff, precipitated herself to the base of the Rock, and was killed. After witnessing the death of his daughter, Toby despatched his warriors to the village, to take from the traders the jug of rum. It was taken to the top of the Rock and thrown thence into the middle of the river ; when, behold I from the spot where it struck, there sprang instantly a huge boulder, which remains to this day—a warning to all future Tobies, who may be disposed to sell their daughters for rum.
Two hundred years ago Toby was a boy and became the slave of Col. Johnson, but he never was a chieftain, and never had warriors at his command.
According to another version, the maiden leaped from the top of the rock upon hearing of the death of her lover. Yet there is still another account of the catastrophe which has been given in the following fashion :—
Long years ago, when the country belonged to the Indians, a certain chief became enamored of a dusky maiden of another tribe and sought to make her his squaw, but she was not in favor of this plan, and one evening, when the chief came a wooing, she took to her heels and made straight for the summit of this cliff. She was closely pursued, and on reaching the edge of the precipice found herself almost within the grasp of the deserted lover. Escape in the direction whence she came was cut off; beneath her yawned the dreadful abyss. Breathing a prayer to the Great Spirit, she threw herself from the brink, and the next moment was a shapeless mass upon the rocks below. Hence the name " Squaw Rock."
It appears that the spirit of this maiden does not rest well, whatever may have been the cause of her death ; for, about half way up Squaw Rock, and down the river from the cliff, there is a narrow crevice, from which the said spirit appears at midnight, on the 2Oth of March and the 2Oth of September, of each year. It takes the form of a snake,—some say with four heads, some, with seven ; and the snake has upon its heads a large carbuncle, which, if anyone can secure it, will make him fabulously rich. Many a night have superstitious persons watched for the snake, hoping to capture this wealth ; but although they may have found snakes with seven rattles, no snake has thus far been secured with heads decorated with carbuncles..."

1 comment:

  1. Great story! Similar to the fate of the princess in Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans." What I found interesting, was that the princess leaped from a cliff, the upper world, to her death in the river, the lower world, and after that, as if to provide an icon, as sort of a "teaching tool", a boulder emerged from the river where it could be seen by everyone, here in the middle world, thereby encompasing the three levels of their world. This would also provide a balance, or order to the world, that could easily be understood by all believers and reinforce the story as being true. May be a stretch on my part, but I can't help it, I just think that way.