Gouverneur Morris, American minister to the court of Louis XVI, was considerably enriched, at the close of the reign of terror, by plate, jewels, furniture, paintings, coaches, and so on, left in his charge by members of the French nobility, that they might not be confiscated in the sack of the city.
Some years before the outbreak of the Civil War, a man with his wife and daughter took up their residence in a log cabin at the foot of Sunrise Rock, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. It seemed probable that they had known better days, for the head of the household was believed to get his living through “writin’ or book-larnin’,” but was fairly useless at hunting and farming.
Shortly after I got married, I went to settle on the north side of the Big Muddy with my new wife, Mrs. Davy Crockett. Now a cousin of my wife’s packed his bags and came along with us. He had been to Cincinnati and had got a great education for them days. He could grammar-itize and geography-itize and philosophize.
My sisters and my baby brother danced about the house, whispering to each other excitedly about the coming of der Belznickel on that snowy December 5th evening, the day before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. According to the stories, the good Saint Nicholas chains up the Devil on the eve of his Birthday – December 6th — and makes him visit all of the children in the village to see if they have been behaving themselves and deserved the attention of Kirstkindel.
There was once a man named Joost who was plodding home on Saturday night, his fiddle under his arm. He had been playing for a wedding in Flatbush and had been drinking schnapps until he saw stars on the ground and fences in the sky; in fact, the universe seemed so out of order that he seated himself rather heavily on this rock to think about it.
Once upon a time there lived a peasant named Ivan and his wife, Marie. They were very sad because they had no children. One cold winter day the peasant and his wife sat near a window in their cottage and watched the village children playing in the snow. The little ones were busily at work making a beautiful snow maiden.
Once upon a time there was a village built on the bank of a wide river. During the spring, summer, and autumn the people were very happy. There was plenty of fuel and game in the deep woods; the river afforded excellent fish. But the Passamaquoddy dreaded the months when the Ice King reigned.
Two little children lived with their old grandmother in a remote place in the Canadian forest. They were twin children—a boy and a girl, Pierre and Estelle by name—and except for their dress it was not easy to tell them apart. Their father and mother had died in the springtime, and in the summer, they had left their old home because of its many sad memories and had gone to live with their old grandmother in a new home elsewhere.
At the time when the Christ Child was born all the people, the animals, and the trees, and plants were very happy. The Child was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. People came daily to see the little One, and they always brought gifts with them.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, on the night before Christmas, a little child was wandering all alone through the streets of a great city. There were many people on the street, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, and even gray-haired grandfathers and grandmothers, all of whom were hurrying home with bundles of presents for each other and for their little ones. Fine carriages rolled by, express wagons rattled past, even old carts were pressed into service, and all things seemed in a hurry and glad with expectation of the coming Christmas morning
It was the night the dear Christ-Child came to Bethlehem. In a country far away from Him, an old, old woman named Babouscka sat in her snug little house by her warm fire. The wind was drifting the snow outside and howling down the chimney, but it only made Babouscka’s fire burn more brightly.
What this street was called, in very old times, Señor, no one knows: because the dreadful thing that gave to it the name of the Street of the Jewel happened a long, long while ago.
There is an old tale which claims that at midnight, on Christmas Eve, the cattle will kneel in the barn and speak with one another. Once an old Maryland man decided to test the tale by hiding in the barn at midnight to listen. So he climbed a rope to the window in the hayloft. He lay down on the rough gray boards, covered himself with hay and waited…
There once lived an armadillo who loved music more than anything else in the world. After every rainfall, the armadillo would drag his shell over to the large pond filled with frogs and he would listen to the big green frogs singing back and forth, back and forth to each other in the most amazing voices.
Once there was a widow who wished to marry a rich nobleman. However, the nobleman did not want to raise another man’s children and he dismissed her. The widow was determined to have the nobleman for her own, so the widow drowned her children to be free of them…
They say that the Llorona was once a poor young girl who loved a rich nobleman, and together they had three children. The girl wished to marry the nobleman, but he refused her. He told her that he might have considered marrying her if she had not born the three out-of-wedlock children, which he considered a disgrace.
Rabbit and Terrapin met near the stream one morning. It was a lovely clear day, and they both basked in the warm sunshine and swapped some stories. Rabbit started boasting that he was the fastest runner in the world. Terrapin wasn’t having any of that! No sir!
Rabbit and Possum each wanted a wife, but no one would marry either of them. They talked over the matter and Rabbit said, “We can’t get wives here. Let’s go to the next village. I’ll say I’m messenger for the council and that everybody must marry at once, and then we’ll be sure to get wives.”
Once a hunter in the mountains heard a noise at night like a rushing wind. He went outside his tepee, and found an eagle was sitting on the drying pole, feasting at the deer he had shot. So, he shot the eagle.
It was noised about New Amsterdam, two hundred years ago, that a round and bulky ghost ship flying Dutch colors from her lofty quarter was careering up the harbor in the teeth of a north wind, through the swift waters of an ebbing tide, and making for the Hudson.
Farmer Manheim sat brooding in his farmhouse near Valley Forge, as his daughter, with a hectic flush on her cheek, looked out into the twilight at the falling snow. She was worn and ill with a fever brought on by exposure incurred that very day in a secret journey to the American camp, made to warn her lover of another attempt on the life of General George Washington, who must pass her father’s house on his return from a distant settlement.
There lived a hunter in the north who had a wife and one child. His lodge stood far off in the forest, several days’ journey from any other. He spent his days in hunting, and his evenings in relating to his wife the incidents that had befallen him. As game was very abundant, he found no difficulty in killing as much as they wanted. Just in all his acts, he lived a peaceful and happy life.
There once lived a man in the north, who had ten daughters, all of whom grew up to womanhood. They were noted for their beauty, but especially Oweenee, the youngest, who was very independent in her way of thinking. She was a great admirer of romantic places, and paid very little attention to the numerous young men who came to her father’s lodge for the purpose of seeing her. Her elder sisters were all solicited in marriage from their parents, and one after another, went off to dwell in the lodges of their husbands, or mothers-in-law, but she would listen to no proposals of the kind. At last she married an old man called Osseo, who was scarcely able to walk, and was too poor to have things like others. They jeered and laughed at her, on all sides, but she seemed to be quite happy, and said to them, “It is my choice, and you will see in the end, who has acted the wisest.”
Now Rabbit had a favorite place on the river where he always went to drink water. It was on a bend in the river, and two Snakes lived there, one on the upper side of the bend and one on the lower. Rabbit soon learned that neither of the Snakes knew that the other Snake lived there.
Dr. William Kiel, a radical preacher who broke from the Methodist church, formed his own church and decided to emigrate with his followers to the Pacific Northwest. He promised his nineteen year old son Willie that he could lead the wagon train, but his son died of malaria four days before the departure date. Determined to keep his word to his son, the doctor had his son’s coffin lined with lead and filled with One Hundred Proof Golden Rule Whiskey.
When the guys proposed we take a day-hike on Grandfather Mountain, I agreed with enthusiasm. Grandfather Mountain looms craggily over the scenery just a few miles from my hometown. It is 5,946 feet in elevation, has a mile-high swinging bridge, fantastic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the best day-hikes in the region. It was some place!