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Wallen's Ridge


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

A century ago this rough eminence, a dozen miles from Chattanooga,
Tennessee, was an abiding place of Cherokee Indians, among whom was
Arinook, their medicine-man, and his daughter. The girl was pure and
fair, and when a white hunter saw her one day at the door of her father's
wigwam he was so struck with her charm of person and her engaging manner
that he resolved not to return to his people until he had won her for his
wife. She had many lovers, though she favored none of them, and while the
Cherokees were at first loth to admit a stranger to their homes they
forgot their jealousy when they found that this one excelled as a hunter
and fisherman, that he could throw the knife and tomahawk better than
themselves, and that he was apt in their work and their sports.

They even submitted to the inevitable with half a grace when they found
that the stranger and the girl of whom they were so fond were in love.
With an obduracy that seems to be characteristic of fathers, the
medicine-man refused his consent to the union, and the hearts of the
twain were heavy. Though the white man pleaded with her to desert her
tribe, she refused to do so, on the score of duty to her father, and the
couple forlornly roamed about the hill, watching the sunset from its top
and passing the bright summer evenings alone, sitting hand in hand,
loving, sorrowing, and speaking not. In one of their long rambles they
found themselves beside the Tennessee River at a point where the current
swirls among rocks and sucks down things that float, discharging them at
the surface in still water, down the stream. Here for a time they stood,
when the girl, with a gush of tears, began to sing--it was her
death-song. The white man grasped her hand and joined his voice to hers.
Then they took a last embrace and flung themselves into the water, still
hand in hand.

When the river is low you may hear their death-song sounding there. The
manitous of the river and the wood were offended with the medicine-man
because of his stubbornness and cruelty, although he suffered greatly
because of the death his daughter died, and he the cause of it. For now
strange Indians appeared among the Cherokees and drove the deer and bear
away. Tall, strong, and large were these intruders, and they hung about
the village by day and night--never speaking, yet casting a fear about
them, for they would throw great rocks farther than a warrior could shoot
an arrow with the wind behind him; they had horns springing from their
heads; their eyes were the eyes of wild-cats, and shone in the dark; they
growled like animals, shaking the earth when they did so, and breathing
flame; they were at the bedside, at the council-fire, at the banquet,
seeming only to wait for a show of enmity to annihilate the tribe.

At length the people could endure their company no longer, and taking
down their lodges they left Wallen's Ridge and wandered far away until
they came to a valley where no foot had left its impress, and there they
besought the Great Spirit to forgive the wrong their medicine-man had
done, and to free them from the terrible spirits that had been living
among them. The prayer was granted, and the lodges stood for many years
in a safe and happy valley.

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