: LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF THE SOUTH
: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land
Early in the days of the white occupation of Georgia a cabin stood not
far from the Falls of Toccoa (the Beautiful). Its only occupant was a
feeble woman, who found it ill work to get food enough from the wild
fruits and scanty clearing near the house, and she had nigh forgotten the
taste of meat; for her two sons, who were her pride no less than her
support, had been killed by savages. She often said that she would gladly
die if she could harm the red men back, in return for her
suffering--which was not Christian doctrine, but was natural. She was
brooding at her fire, one winter evening, in wonder as to how one so weak
and old as she could be revenged, when her door was flung open and a
number of red men filled her cabin. She hardly changed countenance. She
did not rise. You may take my life, she said, for it is useless, now
that you have robbed it of all that made it worth living.
Hush! said the chief. What does the warrior want with the scalps of
women? We war on your men because they kill our game and steal our land.
Is it possible that you come to our homes except to kill?
We are strangers and have lost our way. You must guide us to the foot of
Toccoa and lead us to our friends.
I lead you? Never!
The chief raised his axe, but the woman did not flinch. There was a
pause, in which the iron still hung menacing. Suddenly the dame looked up
and said, If you promise to protect me, I will lead you.
The promise was given and the band set forth, the aged guide in advance,
bending against the storm and clasping her poor rags about her. In the
darkest part of the wood, where the roaring of wind and groaning of
branches seemed the louder for the booming of waters, she cautioned the
band to keep in single file, but to make haste, for the way was far and
the gloom was thickening. Bending their heads against the wind they
pressed forward, she in advance. Suddenly, yet stealthily, she sprang
aside and crouched beneath a tree that grew at the very brink of the
fall. The Indians came on, following blindly, and in an instant she
descried the leader as he went whirling over the edge, and one after
another the party followed. When the last had gone to his death she arose
to her feet with a laugh of triumph. Now I, too, can die! she cried. So
saying, she fell forward into the grayness of space.