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Shonkeek-moonkeek






Category: TALES OF PURITAN LAND

Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

This is the Mohegan name of the pretty lake in the Berkshires now called
Pontoosuc. Shonkeek was a boy, Moonkeek a girl, and they were cousins who
grew up as children commonly do, whether in house or wigwam: they roamed
the woods and hills together, filled their baskets with flowers and
berries, and fell in love. But the marriage of cousins was forbidden in
the Mohegan polity, and when they reached an age in which they found
companionship most delightful their rambles were interdicted and they
were even told to avoid each other. This had the usual effect, and they
met on islands in the lake at frequent intervals, to the torment of one
Nockawando, who wished to wed the girl himself, and who reported her
conduct to her parents.

The lovers agreed, after this, to fly to an Eastern tribe into which they
would ask to be adopted, but they were pledged, if aught interfered with
their escape, to meet beneath the lake. Nockawando interfered. On the
next night, as the unsuspecting Shonkeek was paddling over to the island
where the maid awaited him, the jealous rival, rowing softly in his wake,
sent an arrow into his back, and Shonkeek, without a cry, pitched
headlong into the water. Yet, to the eyes of Nockawando, he appeared to
keep his seat and urge his canoe forward. The girl saw the boat approach:
it sped, now, like an eagle's flight. One look, as it passed the rock;
one glance at the murderer, crouching in his birchen vessel, and with her
lover's name on her lips she leaped into her own canoe and pushed out
from shore. Nockawando heard her raise the death-song and rowed forward
as rapidly as he could, but near the middle of the lake his arm fell
palsied.

The song had ended and the night had become strangely, horribly still.
Not a chirp of cricket, not a lap of wave, not a rustle of leaf.
Motionless the girl awaited, for his boat was still moving by the impetus
of his last stroke of the paddle. The evening star was shining low on the
horizon, and as her figure loomed in the darkness the star shone through
at the point where her eye had looked forth. It was no human creature
that sat there. Then came the dead man's boat. The two shadows rowed
noiselessly together, and as they disappeared in the mist that was now
settling on the landscape, an unearthly laugh rang over the lake; then
all was still. When Nockawando reached the camp that night he was a
raving maniac. The Indians never found the bodies of the pair, but they
believed that while water remains in Pontoosuc its surface will be vexed
by these journeys of the dead.





Next: The Salem Alchemist

Previous: Balanced Rock



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