Skinner's Cave





The abhorrence to paying taxes and duties--or any other levy from which

an immediate and personal good is not promised--is too deeply rooted in

human nature to be affected by statutes, and whenever it is possible to

buy commodities that have escaped the observation of the revenue officers

many are tempted to do so for the mere pleasure of defying the law. In

the early part of this century the northern farmers and their wives were,

in a way, providing themselves with laces, silver-ware, brandy, and other

protected and dreadful articles, on which it was evident that somebody

had forgotten to pay duty. The customs authorities on the American side

of the border were long puzzled by the irruption of these forbidden

things, but suspicion ultimately fell on a fellow of gigantic size, named

Skinner.



It was believed that this outlaw carried on the crime of free trade after

sunset, hiding his merchandise by day on the islands of Lake

Memphremagog. This delightful sheet of water lies half in Canada and half

in Vermont--agreeably to the purpose of such as he. Province Island is

still believed to contain buried treasure, but the rock that contains

Skinner's Cave was the smuggler's usual haunt, and when pursued he rowed

to this spot and effected a disappearance, because he entered the cave on

the northwest side, where it was masked by shrubbery. One night the

officers landed on this island after he had gone into hiding, and after

diligent search discovered his boat drawn up in a covert. They pushed it

into the lake, where the winds sent it adrift, and, his communication

with the shore thus cut off, the outlaw perished miserably of hunger. His

skeleton was found in the cavern some years later.





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