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Finding New Country
Leaving Franconia one may drive north or south, as he pleases, until well away from the high mountains, and then take such direction as may tempt him. A magnificent drive is through Bethlehem, Whitefield, Groveton, North Stratford, to Colebrook, which is on the upper Connecticut River; thence eastward across the State through Dixville Notch to Errol on the Androscoggin; thence along the west side of Lake Umbagog to Upton, and down the Bear River Notch to Bethel in Maine. This drive, easily accomplished in a week, is full of delights. It is in large part through wild country, but the roads are in general better than in the more southern country.
Southward from the Profile House the road follows the Pemigewasset River and valley to Plymouth, some thirty miles. The traveller going towards home in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the lower country, may follow the river road to Bristol and Franklin Falls, and then go down the bank of the Merrimac through Concord. Or he may take a route through the middle of the State, over highland country, or he may cross the State to the Connecticut valley, and go southward along that river.
If in leaving the mountain country he desires to go nowhere in particular, only to wander along the roads, he can do no better than to drive into northern Vermont. The direct route from Franconia is through Littleton, and, crossing the Connecticut at Waterford, to St. Johnsbury.
Along the Profile Road
By way of finding new country, I drove from Franconia to Lancaster in New Hampshire.
From Lancaster we drove across the Connecticut into Vermont, and down the river. We did not start until afternoon, thinking not to go beyond Lunenberg Heights. That little village stands on a hill, with a grand view of the Franconia and White Mountain ranges, the valley of the Connecticut lying some four or six hundred feet below, in the foreground of the landscape. The air was smoky, and we could not get all the extent of this grand outlook. As the afternoon was not far advanced, I decided to go on westward.
If you will look at a map you will see that Lunenberg lies about forty miles south of the Canada line, and due east of St. Johnsbury. Going northward in Vermont you can follow up the valley of the Connecticut to the Canada line by a road along the river, or you can follow up the valley of the Passumpsic River, from St. Johnsbury, and diverging at West Burke, go north along the eastern side of Mount Annanance (on Lake Willoughby) to Island Pond, and thence on to Canada. Between these two routes there is no northward route through this north-eastern part of Vermont. Nor is there any practicable road from east to west across any part of this section. The road I was driving that afternoon, from Lancaster to St. Johnsbury, is the most northern road in Vermont, going west from the Connecticut River, across this part of the State. There was a poor road once along the track of the Grand Trunk rail from North Stratford to Island Pond, but it has not been kept up as a summer road, and is not safe. There is a mountain road across from Guildhall to Burke, but it is so rough that only necessity should lead any one over it with a light wagon. I have only to add that I do not recommend this road from Lunenberg to St. Johnsbury.
Two miles out from Lunenberg the road became narrow, and deep mud holes and deeper dry holes were frequent. Then it became rough and rocky. This is not an untravelled road. It is in constant use. We met fifteen vehicles — heavy farm wagons, covered buggies, and others — and the meeting in narrow passes, among rocks or mud holes, was serious business. I suppose the condition of this road is due to the system of road-making by town tax. Lunenberg is not a rich town, is sparsely settled, and this road, the most northerly cross-road from St. Johnsbury to the Connecticut, is used more by non-residents than residents. It presents a strong argument for a new system of public roads used by the public. When the States utilize State prison and county jail labor on road-making they will have better roads, no dispute with labor societies about prison labor, increase the taxable value of farm property, and add to the intelligence and home-loving character of the population, as well as add to the population. Railroads have cursed and depopulated Northern New England. Good wagon roads are needed for the restoration of the country. What is true of this part of the country is true in many other States of the Union. Three hours of the golden afternoon it took me to accomplish five miles. Then we entered the town of Concord. But the sun was setting, and St. Johnsbury was yet sixteen miles away. If the road were to be of the same sort we should hardly get through at all in the dark; so we began to think of a stopping-place. Two miles on we drove into a little saw-mill village at the outlet of Miles Pond, famous for pickerel, and we were told that there was no inn in the village, but that travellers were sometimes "accommodated" at the house of a hospitable family, to which I drove. It was the last house in the village, a small, unpainted, one-story house, on the bank of the pond, and the tired horses gladly stopped on the grass before the door. A lady was sitting on the stoop, sewing by the last of the daylight. Could they take care of us for the night? She could not say; her husband would be at home from the field very soon; she could take care of us, but he would have to say whether he could take care of the horses. We must await his coming. So we threw blankets over the horses and waited. The twilight came down. My rod, as always, was lying in the carriage, and I put on a large white fly and went to the shore of the pond. Two or three casts to get out line, then a long back cast, and — my fly was on a telegraph-wire which was high overhead behind me — and the leader went into a mass of raspberry-bushes along the bank which overhung the water. Telegraph-lines are among the abominations of anglers. They penetrate the wildest woods, and arrest one's cast in the most unexpected places. I have left flies on telegraph-wires all over the world. No amount of experience serves to make one careful. Three successive casts I left on a wire between Saltzburg and Ischl. Now I put on another fly, and threw it out among the stars, which were plenty and silvery in the calm depths under the lily-pads. No pickerel should have been out so late, but there was one half-pound fellow who was still abroad, and he took the fly; and while I was landing him our host arrived, and said he could take care of the horses. So we went in, and were most kindly and hospitably treated. The little house held us comfortably. We had a broiled bird, eggs on toast, and abundant doughnuts, and cakes of various kinds, and milk in plenty for supper.
The road was good next day through West Concord to St. Johnsbury, where we dined, and that evening we rested at Danville Green.
Danville Green will assuredly be better known in future years. It is a little village on a lofty piece of upland farming country, commanding a majestic view. The most striking feature in this view is the eastern horizon, which is formed by the New Hampshire and Franconia mountains. Of these there is scarcely a known peak which, seen from this angle, is not brought out separately against the sky. Thus the White Mountain or Presidential Range, from Madison and Adams to the Crawford Notch, and the Franconia Range from the Crawford Notch to Lafayette and Kinsman, are laid out in a succession of elevations, while Moosilauke, at the extreme right, ends the serrated horizon line.
Joe's Pond lies a mile or two to the westward of Danville Green, and Molly's Pond a few miles farther to the west, on the road we drove towards Montpelier. The waters of the former flow into the Connecticut, while the latter pours out in a fine stream which is one of the heads of the Winooski, or Onion River, emptying into Lake Champlain.
On this outlet of Mollie's Pond is one of the finest cascades in the country. The stream, which has been rushing and roaring along its rocky bed, suddenly plunges down the hill into the valley in a white torrent. The fall may be 150 feet in height, not perpendicular, but over a series of steep, rocky steps. The forest overhangs it on both sides. If you are driving down the valley from Cabot your road passes directly in front of this magnificent water-fall. Were it in Switzerland it would have wide renown. On the direct road leading from Danville to Marshfield the cascade is not visible, though its roar comes out of the forest on your right as you pass near it. The cascade is known hereabouts as Molly's Falls. Molly's Falls are on Molly's Brook, and Molly's Brook flows from Molly's Pond.
Joe and Molly are historical characters in the Coos country. Joe was a young Indian from Nova Scotia who, on the practical destruction of his tribe after the siege of Louisburg, drifted to the St. Francois tribe, and made his home on the Connecticut where Newbury now is. He was always on kind terms with the early settlers, and lived to a good old age, enjoying a pension from Vermont until his death in 1819. In his early days he took a wife ( known to the whites as Molly) who had by a former husband two sons named Toomalek and Muxawuxal. The latter died. The former lived to be a grief to his mother. He is described as a short, broad, fiendish-looking, bad Indian. He desired for his wife a young girl, Lewa, who preferred and married another. Whereupon Toomalek, watching for his opportunity to kill the favored lover, now the husband, saw the two sitting by their camp-fire in the evening, shot at the man and killed the wife. The Indians tried him by their law. Old chief John, a renowned warrior, presided, and laid down the law that as Toomalek had shot at the husband and missed him, he had committed no crime as against him; that as he had not intended to shoot the woman in shooting at the man, the occurrence was accidental so far as she was concerned. So they discharged him. But John lived to repent his small knowledge of the distinct crimes of murder and manslaughter. Toomalek shortly after killed the husband in a fray, and again went free, it being adjudged that he acted in self-defence. It was old John who saved him again by his legal acumen.
Old John's eldest and favorite son, Pial, with other young Indians, was walking across the fields now in North Haverhill, when an exchange of words sprang up between him and an Indian girl. She whispered in Toomalek's ear, and he, turning short, drove his knife through Pial, then and there killing him, contrary to Indian and white law and the peace of both communities. This time the whites undertook to administer justice, and they did it with a queer intermingling of white and copper-colored law and practice. The court was apparently a town meeting, called at Newbury the morning after the murder, and the judgment of death was unanimous, including the Indian law that the father of the murdered man must kill the murderer. But first they sent a committee to consult the clergyman, whose approval being obtained, they made Toomalek sit down, and gave John a musket, with which he executed the judgment of private revenge and public law on the son of Molly.
Joe and Molly were present at the execution, buried the body themselves, and it is reported that Molly, who had but lately wept long and bitterly over the natural death of her other son, Muxawuxal, shed no tears for Toomalek, nor was ever heard to mention his name. During the War of the Revolution Joe was always on the side of the colonists; was a great admirer of Washington; boasted of a visit he once paid to the great father at Newburg on the Hudson and of a kind reception there, and was known to have such permanent hatred towards the British that he would never cross the Canada line even in following moose through the forests. His Indian friends could never persuade him to join the St. Francis tribe in Canada, nor when once they stole Molly and carried her there would he go after her. She came back and died. He outlived her, and growing very old, received a pension of $70 per annum from Vermont until his death in 1819. When he died the Newbury people did him honor, laid him in the north-east corner of the burying-ground, and discharged over his grave the last load which the old Indian had placed and left in his gun. Says Mr. Powers ( the historian of the Coos country, from whose book I have condensed this story ): "with Captain Joe fell the last of the Indians at Coosuck, that once fairy-land of long-slumbering generations."
You will see that the names "Joe's Pond" and "Molly's Pond" are sacred historical names. Some one will be trying to change them some day because they are not of pleasant sound. But they should stand.
We dined at Marshfield, drove on to Plainfield, and instead of keeping on to Montpelier turned southward, crossing high hills with far views of the mountains, and reached Barre at sunset.
As I entered the village an old friend greeted me. We bad been together in many countries, and his greeting was the salutation of peace which is common in the Orient.
Why is it that English-speaking peoples of all the world have none of those beautiful forms of greeting when friends meet? It is because of this great lack in our language, or our customs, that travellers who have been in Oriental countries are fond of using Oriental salutations. The American or the Englishman, when he meets his dearest friends after a long or short separation, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred asks him, "How do you do?" or "How are you?" Perhaps he varies it by saying, if surprised, "Why, John!" Lovers have no more tender phrase when they meet in the presence of friends than the same "How do you do?" The physician or the clergyman coming to the bedside of the sick man or woman, like all other friends, can only ask, "How do you do to-day?" or, "How do you find yourself?" or some other vague inquiry always beginning with "how."
It is otherwise in parting. We have good old phrases of benediction which we use, whether we mean them or not. Why not some like phrases for salutation in meeting, like the old Romans, "Good health to you;" or, best of all, that salutation which has been used in the Orient with uninterrupted succession for thousands of years, "Peace be with you."
What were the revisers of the Old Testament about when they failed to revise the King James translation of that salutation repeatedly occurring? When the prophet met the woman whose boy lay dead at home, he did not greet her in the vague phraseology of the Englishman or the American, "Is it well with thee? Is it well with the child?" Nor did she answer with that cold word "Well." He said, "Is it peace with thee? Is it peace with the child?" and she said, with infinite calm and trust, "It is peace."