Chocorua (North American Folk Tale)

This beautiful alp in the White Mountains commemorates in its name a prophet of the Pequawket tribe who, prior to undertaking a journey, had confided his son to a friendly settler, Cornelius Campbell, of Tamworth. The boy found some poison in the house that had been prepared for foxes, and, thinking it to be some delicacy, he drank of it and died. When Chocorua returned he could not be persuaded that his son had fallen victim to his own ignorance, but ascribed his death to the white man”s treachery, and one day, when Campbell entered his cabin from the fields, he found there the corpses of his wife and children scalped and mangled.

He was not a man to lament at such a time: hate was stronger than sorrow. A fresh trail led from his door. Seizing his rifle he set forth in pursuit of the murderer. A mark in the dust, a bent grass blade, a torn leaf-these were guides enough, and following on through bush and swamp and wood they led him to this mountain, and up the slope he scrambled breathlessly. At the summit, statue-like, Chocorua stood. He saw the avenger coming, and knew himself unarmed, but he made no attempt to escape his doom. Drawing himself erect and stretching forth his hands he invoked anathema on his enemies in these words: “A curse upon you, white men! May the Great Spirit curse you when he speaks in the clouds, and his words are fire! Chocorua had a son and you killed him while the sky looked bright. Lightning blast your crops! Winds and fire destroy your dwellings! The Evil One breathe death upon your cattle! Your graves lie in the war-path of the Indian! Panthers howl and wolves fatten over your bones! Chocorua goes to the Great Spirit. His curse stays with the white man.”

The report of Campbell”s rifle echoed from the ledges and Chocorua leaped into the air, plunging to the rocks below. His mangled remains were afterward found and buried near the Tamworth path. The curse had its effect, for pestilence and storm devastated the surrounding country and the smaller settlements were abandoned. Campbell became a morose hermit, and was found dead in his bed two years afterward.

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