The Revenge Of Shandaken

On the rock platform where the Catskill Mountain House now stands,

commanding one of the fairest views in the world, old chief Shandaken set

his wigwam,--for it is a mistake to suppose that barbarians are

indifferent to beauty,--and there his daughter, Lotowana, was sought in

marriage by his braves. She, however, kept faith to an early vow

exchanged with a young chief of the Mohawks. A suitor who was

particularly troublesome was Norsereddin, proud, morose, dark-featured, a

stranger to the red man, a descendant, so he claimed, from Egyptian

kings, and who lived by himself on Kaaterskill Creek, appearing among

white settlements but rarely.

On one of his visits to Catskill, a tavern-lounging Dutchman wagered him

a thousand golden crowns that he could not win Lotowana, and, stung by

avarice as well as inflamed by passion, Norsereddin laid new siege to her

heart. Still the girl refused to listen, and Shandaken counselled him to

be content with the smiles of others, thereby so angering the Egyptian

that he assailed the chief and was driven from the camp with blows; but

on the day of Lotowana's wedding with the Mohawk he returned, and in a

honeyed speech asked leave to give a jewel to the bride to show that he

had stifled jealousy and ill will. The girl took the handsome box he gave

her and drew the cover, when a spring flew forward, driving into her hand

the poisoned tooth of a snake that had been affixed to it. The venom was

strong, and in a few minutes Lotowana lay dead at her husband's feet.

Though the Egyptian had disappeared into the forest directly on the

acceptance of his treacherous gift, twenty braves set off in pursuit, and

overtaking him on the Kalkberg, they dragged him back to the rock where

father and husband were bewailing the maid's untimely fate. A pile of

fagots was heaped within a few feet of the precipice edge, and tying

their captive on them, they applied the torch, dancing about with cries

of exultation as the shrieks of the wretch echoed from the cliffs. The

dead girl was buried by the mourning tribe, while the ashes of

Norsereddin were left to be blown abroad. On the day of his revenge

Shandaken left his ancient dwelling-place, and his camp-fires never

glimmered afterward on the front of Ontiora.

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