The Lewiston Hermit





On an island above the falls of the Androscoggin, at Lewiston, Maine,

lived a white recluse at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The

natives, having had good reason to mistrust all palefaces, could think no

good of the man who lived thus among but not with them. Often they

gathered at the bank and looked across at his solitary candle twinkling

among the leaves, and wondered what manner of evil he could be planning

against them. Wherever there are many conspirators one will be a gabbler

or a traitor; so, when the natives had resolved on his murder, he,

somehow, learned of their intent and set himself to thwart it. So great

was their fear of this lonely man, and of the malignant powers he might

conjure to his aid, that nearly fifty Indians joined the expedition, to

give each other courage.



Their plan was to go a little distance up the river and come down with

the current, thus avoiding the dip of paddles that he might hear in a

direct crossing. When it was quite dark they set off, and keeping headway

on their canoes aimed them toward the light that glimmered above the

water. But the cunning hermit had no fire in his cabin that night. It was

burning on a point below his shelter, and from his hiding-place among the

rocks he saw their fleet, as dim and silent as shadows, go by him on the

way to the misguiding beacon.



Presently a cry arose. The savages had passed the point of safe sailing;

their boats had become unmanageable. Forgetting their errand, their only

hope now was to save themselves, but in vain they tried to reach the

shore: the current was whirling them to their doom. Cries and death-songs

mingled with the deepening roar of the waters, the light barks reached

the cataract and leaped into the air. Then the night was still again,

save for the booming of the flood. Not one of the Indians who had set out

on this errand of death survived the hermit's stratagem.





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