Canada 1867
....Third Book of Reading Lessons, McPhail, 1867, by


THE falls are certainly fine, and consist of what may by courtesy be called a horse-shoe, but is in reality the junction of two walls of perpendicular rock, placed nearly at right angles to each other, down which the whole waters of the St. John tumble in one leap, and then rush boiling through a deep and narrow gorge of rock for nearly a mile. They are the scene of an Indian legend, which is probably not untrue.

It is related, that a large war-party of Mohawks made a descent on the upper St. John from Canada, for the purpose of exterminating the Melicetes. They carried their canoes with them, and embarked on the St. John, below Edmunston, from which point to the Grand Falls the river is perfectly smooth and deep. Not knowing the navigation, they landed and seized two squaws, whom they compelled to act as guides down the river. When night fell, the different canoes were tied together, so that the warriors might sleep, whilst a few only paddled the leading canoes under direction of the women, whose boats were tied, the one on the right, the other on the left, of the flotilla. They neared the falls, and still the women paddled on. The roar of the falling waters rose on the still night air. Those who paddled looked anxious; some few of the sleepers awoke. To lull suspicion, the women spoke of the great stream which here fell into the Walloostook, the Indian name of the St. John, and still they paddled on. When they saw, at length, that the whole mass of canoes in the centre of the river was well entered on the smooth treacherous current, which, looking so calm and gentle, was bearing them irresistibly to the fall, the women leaped into the water, and strove to reach the shore by swimming in the comparatively feeble stream near the banks. Tied inextricably together, the centre canoes drew the others on, and the whole body of the invaders plunged down the cataract, and perished in the foaming waters of the gorge below. I asked eagerly whether the women escaped. It does not speak highly of Indian chivalry that no one knew, or seemed to think it matter worthy of recollection, whether the two squaws had, or had not, sacrificed their own lives in defending those of their tribe.

This fall was also the scene of a tragedy of more recent occurrence. Two young men, in a canoe, found themselves sucked into the current, while engaged in drawing logs to the shore. They were still some way above the fall, and there was yet a chance of escape. Through vigorous exertion they might yet reach the bank--perilously near the fall, perhaps, but yet safely. They plied their paddles desperately--too desperately; for one broke with the violence with which it was wielded, and then all hope was over; though some minutes elapsed before, in the sight of the horrified population of Colebrooke, utterly unable to render the least help, the canoe shot over the precipice. The man whose paddle broke threw himself down in the bottom of the canoe; the other never ceased paddling towards the side, though hopelessly, till just before the final plunge, when, with his paddle, he waved adieu to the spectators, and then folded his arms calmly on his breast. No trace of the canoe, or of the bodies, was ever seen again.


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