The Great Carbuncle

: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

High on the eastern face of Mount Monroe shone the Great Carbuncle, its

flash scintillating for miles by day, its dusky crimson glowing among the

ledges at night. The red men said that it hung in the air, and that the

soul of an Indian--killed, that he might guard the spot--made approach

perilous to men of all complexions and purposes. As late as Ethan

Crawford's time one search band took a good man to lay the watcher,

when they strove to scale the height, but they returned sorely bruised,

treasureless, and not even saw that wonderful sight. The value of the

stone tempted many, but those who sought it had to toil through a dense

forest, and on arriving at the mountain found its glories eclipsed by

intervening abutments, nor could they get near it. Rocks covered with

crystals, at first thought to be diamonds, were readily despoiled of

their treasure, but the Great Carbuncle burned on, two thousand feet

above them, at the head of the awful chasm of Oakes Gulf, and baffled

seekers likened it to the glare of an evil eye.

There was one who had grown old in searching for this gem, often

scrambling over the range in wind and snow and cloud, and at last he

reached a precipitous spot he had never attained before. Great was his

joy, for the Carbuncle was within his reach, blazing into his eyes in the

noon sunlight as if it held, crystallized in its depths, the brightness

of all the wine that had ever gladdened the tired hearts of men. There

were rivals in the search, and on reaching the plateau they looked up and

saw him kneeling on a narrow ledge with arms extended as in rapture. They

called to him. He answered not. He was dead--dead of joy and triumph.

While they looked a portion of the crag above him fell away and rolled

from rock to rock, marking its course with flashes of bloody fire, until

it reached the Lake of the Clouds, and the waters of that tarn drowned

its glory. Yet those waters are not always black, and sometimes the

hooked crest of Mount Monroe is outlined against the night sky in a ruddy