A Villain's Cremation

: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Bramley's Mountain, near the present village of Bloomfield, New York, on

the edge of the Catskill group, was the home of a young couple that had

married with rejoicing and had taken up the duties and pleasures of

housekeeping with enthusiasm. To be sure, in those days housekeeping was

not a thing to be much afraid of, and the servant question had not come

up for discussion. The housewives did the work themselves, and the

> husband had no valets. The domicile of this particular pair was merely a

tent of skins stretched around a frame of poles, and their furniture

consisted principally of furs strewn over the earth floor; but they loved

each other truly. The girl was thankful to be taken from her home to

live, because, up to the time of her marriage, she had been persecuted by

a morose and ill-looking fellow of her tribe, who laid siege to her

affection with such vehemence that the more he pleaded the greater was

her dislike; and now she hoped that she had seen the last of him. But

that was not to be. He lurked about the wigwam of the pair, torturing

himself with the sight of their felicity, and awaiting his chance to

prove his hate. This chance came when the husband had gone to Lake

Delaware to fish, for he rowed after and gave battle in the middle of the

pond. Taken by surprise, and being insufficiently armed, the husband was

killed and his body flung into the water. Then, casting an affectionate

leer at the wife who had watched this act of treachery and malice with

speechless horror from the mountain-side, he drove his canoe ashore and

set off in pursuit of her. She retreated so slowly as to allow him to

keep her in sight, and when she entered a cave he pressed forward

eagerly, believing that now her escape was impossible; but she had

purposely trapped him there, for she had already explored a tortuous

passage that led to the upper air, and by this she had left the cavern in

safety while he was groping and calling in the dark. Returning to the

entrance, she loosened, by a jar, a ledge that overhung it, so that the

door was almost blocked; then, gathering light wood from the dry trees

around her, she made a fire and hurled the burning sticks into the prison

where the wretch was howling, until he was dead in smoke and flame. When

his yells and curses had been silenced she told a friend what she had

done, then going back to the lake, she sang her death-song and cast

herself into the water, hoping thus to rejoin her husband.