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PAGE 4

Charms And Fairy Faith
by [?]

Very suggestive, too, is the story of Pumoolah,–a mighty spirit, whose home is on the great Katahdin Mountain, sitting there with his earthly bride (a beautiful daughter of the Penobscots transformed into an immortal by her love), in serenest sunshine, above the storm which crouches and growls at his feet. None but the perfectly pure and good can reach his abode. Many have from time to time attempted it in vain; some, after almost reaching the summit, have been driven back by thunderbolts or sleety whirlwinds.

Not far from my place of residence are the ruins of a mill, in a narrow ravine fringed with trees. Some forty years ago the mill was supposed to be haunted; and horse-shoes, in consequence, were nailed over its doors. One worthy man, whose business lay beyond the mill, was afraid to pass it alone; and his wife, who was less fearful of supernatural annoyance, used to accompany him. The little old white-coated miller, who there ground corn and wheat for his neighbors, whenever he made a particularly early visit to his mill, used to hear it in full operation,–the water-wheel dashing bravely, and the old rickety building clattering to the jar of the stones. Yet the moment his hand touched the latch or his foot the threshold all was hushed save the melancholy drip of water from the dam or the low gurgle of the small stream eddying amidst willow roots and mossy stones in the ravine below.

This haunted mill has always reminded me of that most beautiful of Scottish ballads, the Song of the Elfin Miller, in which fairies are represented as grinding the poor man’s grist without toil:–

“Full merrily rings the mill-stone round;
Full merrily rings the wheel;
Full merrily gushes out the grist;
Come, taste my fragrant meal.
The miller he’s a warldly man,
And maun hae double fee;
So draw the sluice in the churl’s dam
And let the stream gae free!”

Brainerd, who truly deserves the name of an American poet, has left behind him a ballad on the Indian legend of the black fox which haunted Salmon River, a tributary of the Connecticut. Its wild and picturesque beauty causes us to regret that more of the still lingering traditions of the red men have not been made the themes of his verse:–

THE BLACK FOX.

“How cold, how beautiful, how bright
The cloudless heaven above us shines!
But ‘t is a howling winter’s night;
‘T would freeze the very forest pines.

“The winds are up while mortals sleep;
The stars look forth while eyes are shut;
The bolted snow lies drifted deep
Around our poor and lonely hut.

“With silent step and listening ear,
With bow and arrow, dog and gun,
We’ll mark his track,–his prowl we hear:
Now is our time! Come on! come on!

“O’er many a fence, through many a wood,
Following the dog’s bewildered scent,
In anxious haste and earnest mood,
The white man and the Indian went.

“The gun is cocked; the bow is bent;
The dog stands with uplifted paw;
And ball and arrow both are sent,
Aimed at the prowler’s very jaw.

“The ball to kill that fox is run
Not in a mould by mortals made;
The arrow which that fox should shun
Was never shaped from earthly reed.

“The Indian Druids of the wood
Know where the fatal arrows grow;
They spring not by the summer flood;
They pierce not through the winter’s snow.

“Why cowers the dog, whose snuffing nose
Was never once deceived till now?
And why amidst the chilling snows
Does either hunter wipe his brow?

“For once they see his fearful den;
‘T is a dark cloud that slowly moves
By night around the homes of men,
By day along the stream it loves.