The Magic Of The Waters
Shannondale Springs, "The Resort of Presidents"
The Legend Of Lover's Leap
Boyoboy, did we have it wrong. We recently were able to read from a copy of Ms. Southworth's novel, "Shannondale", and found out that we were making an assumption about the legend recounted therein. And we all know about the word Ass-U-Me!
We had been referring to the legend as Lovers' while the apostrophe should have been placed thusly: Lover's. We're providing the legend as Ms. Southworth wrote it in 1851. Whether or not it sprung from her imagination, from local lore or was actually based on a factual occurrence is unknown to us.
First the narrator's misconception and then the set-up.
At a party at Red-Stone Hall, the fictitious manor house situated at Shannondale Springs, those present ask an old priest to recount the legend of Lover's Leap. He acquiesces to the request with one stipulation. He will only relate the events of the legend from the summit of the precipice where the tale met its fateful conclusion. The next day, the partygoers cross the river and ascend the cliffs to hear the priest's story. The logo of our website would represent the view from atop Lover's Leap
THE THREE BEAUTIES or Shannondale by E.D.E.N. Southworth(ca 1851)
“Many, very many years ago, when this property was in the hands of Bushrod Summerfield, the grandson of Lord Summerfield, the first settler, there came to this part of the country a young Englishman of high rank and of great wealth. He was a colonel in the hussars, from inclination to martial life rather than from the necessity of entering the profession. He is said to have been a very handsome man; of tall and commanding stature, with high Roman features, fired by the light of a falcon eye, and softened by an abundance of raven ringlets. His manner, his gestures, the tones of his voice possessed that marvelous fascination that compelled the love, the adoration of all who knew him. Colonel Clinton had come out only to see the country, at the invitation of Bushrod Summerfield, who, having been sent to England for education, bat formed an acquaintance with Clinton at Oxford.
"Of course, Colonel Clinton became the guest of Squire Summerfield. At this period a remnant of the tribe of Shenandoah Indians dwelt on the other side of the mountains, with their wandering mode of life. They had a reserved privilege of fishing at a certain place in their own ancestral river. The head of this tribe was a woman—Lulu, the daughter of the great chief, Worneo-at-akuk."
"But I did not know that a woman ever reigned over an Indian tribe. I thought their women were generally degraded," said Sinn Hinton.
"They are, generally, but not universally, and not so much formerly as now. We see by the chronicles of the early settlement of the country that the custom prevailed to some extent. Lulu was a grand, wild, forest girl, of that dark, rich, luxurious style of beauty never seen in the most beautiful of the Caucasian race. Her form was tall and majestic, but beautifully proportioned. A small but regal head, an arched and undulating neck, a fine, high breast, rounded limbs, tapering toward the delicate wrists and ankles, and small and elegantly shaped feet and hands—such her form. Her features were of the Jewish style; her complexion was dark but singularly clear, and deepened into a rich crimson in the rounded cheeks and full and arched lips. Her eyes were large and dark, full of liquid fire, fierce and soft, as anger or tenderness possessed her; her eyebrows were very black and heavy, her eyelashes long, thick, and black, and her hair rolled in shining waves of purplish black nearly to her feet. She usually wore a superb dress of fine scarlet cloth, richly and beautifully embroidered with various-colored beads, silks, and gold and silver threads, and fringed with variegated feathers. Her dress was short, and confined to her waist by a belt, in which were stuck one or two elegantly wrought poniards, purchased from the white settlers. Her neck, arms, and legs were bare; three or four rows of bright beads decked her throat, and heavy gold and silver bracelets encircled her wrists and ankles. Her purplish locks, twined with many a gem, hung far below her waist. The fame of the wondrous beauty of the queen of the Shenandoahs had gone all over the whole settlement; and by the braves of her own tribe the beautiful Lulu was loved, adored, worshiped as a goddess, with all the wild enthusiasm of savage idolatry. Her hand had been sought in marriage by the chiefs of other tribes, but Lulu had never felt a throb of love. She seemed something set apart and sacred; the vestal queen rejected all these offers with proud and high disdain.
"One day there was a great hunt upon the mountains. Squire Summerfield and Colonel Clinton joined it. The fox, after running a circuit of thirty miles, closely pursued by the hounds and hunters, of whom the gallant Colonel Clinton was the foremost, fled toward the river, took this direction through the thicket straight to this precipice, madly followed by Colonel Clinton on his spirited horse. The fox sprung to the edge of the precipice, paused, took breath, gave one fearful look around, when Colonel Clinton on his fiery horse came thundering on, and took the leap. The fierce horse of the hunter,. in the delirium of the chase, sped madly on, and sprung over after the quarry. The hounds had started, and stopped short at the brink of the precipice, and now they set up a fearful wail. Other hunters rode up, but seeing no signs of a catastrophe, suspected none; supposing that Colonel Clinton had, upon losing the quarry, taken another road.
"Colonel Clinton's brain had reeled, and he had lost his senses at the moment the fearful leap was taken. When he recovered them he found himself lying on a pallet of delicate furs in a tent hung on the inside with fine, yellow cloth, richly embroidered with silver thread. The setting sun was pouring a flood of golden light through the opening into the tent, which bathed the dark, bright, glorious form of the Indian queen, who stood in its full blaze. Colonel Clinton strove to collect his thoughts. It was some time before he could recollect what had happened. At last he did; and then beckoning to the dark beauty, who immediately approached him, he said:
"Ah! The tigress grew as gentle as the doe, the queen became the slave! Her warriors saw, with a fierce and bitter jealous, the growing weakness of their queen, the discrowning of their goddess. They assembled round their council-fires and talked; they went to her and expostulated. In vain! in vain! She did not heed or even hear them; Her soul was absorbed in one idea—one life; her senses all bound up in one ecstatic trance. They met again in council, and, after a deliberate, long talk, they decided that the white intruder should leave their encampment within twenty-four hours at the peril of his life. This decision was conveyed to Clinton the same evening. He assented very calmly. And she! She left her Indian crown; she left her glorious heritage of independence, of love, of worship, and of power, and followed like a slave the footsteps of her chosen master when he bid her follow. A hut in the depths of the forest received the English officer and his Indian mistress. He supplied his wants and hers by hunting and fishing. She cooked his meals and served him fondly. This, you know, could not last long. The highly-educated, highly-accomplished, elegant, and fastidious Reginald Clinton, the flower of the young English aristocracy, could not long content himself with a savage, however attractive she might be. After the first ecstatic shock sent to his heart by her dark, electric beauty had subsided, his passion waned. And after he had ceased to love her, her very tenderness, humility, and submission only disgusted and revolted him. He determined to leave her. Reginald Clinton had all a fine gentleman's abhorrence of a 'scene.' He resolved to evade one; so, one day, he took leave of Lulu as if for a day of hunting, and he never saw her but once more. He turned his steps toward Shannondale, where he arrived late in the afternoon. Squire Summerfield received him with surprise and joy, as one from the dead. He told them the story of his rescue by the Indians and of his sojourn among them; but he said nothing of Lulu. Squire Summerfield introduced him to his young sister, Rose Summerfield—for her exceeding beauty called the ' Rose of Shannondale.' She had just returned from Franco, where she had been educated, and had arrived at Red-Stone Hall during the absence of Colonel Clinton. Very lovely was the Rose of Shannondale, with her Hebe-like style of beauty, her exquisite form, her fair complexion, with its sudden blushes, her deep blue eyes, with their meek droop, and the clustering auburn tendrils that contrasted so brightly with her snowy forehead and roseate cheeks. Clinton was thrown constantly in her society, and he found her mind and heart richly cultivated and beautiful as her person. He loved her—not with that passionate delirium of attraction that had bound him to Lulu, but with a profound and tender affection, founded upon deep esteem, and an affection that might have possessed redeeming power for him but for his sins against Lulu. A few weeks passed, and Reginald Clinton was the accepted lover of Rose Summerfield; and their marriage-day fixed. Splendid preparations were made. The fame of the magnificence of the approaching bridal spread all over the country. A vast number of relatives and friends were invited. The marriage-day came. Evening drew on. The guests assembled. Night was turned to the day with the splendor of the illuminations. The marriage ceremony was over, and the company were all in the saloon. Many cotillons were up an the floor, and the music pealed forth, drowning the roar of waters around the vale. Suddenly, in the pauses of the music, arose a wild, unearthly wail. It was so fierce in its despairing woe, that it might well be taken for the death-cry a soul condemned to eternal perdition. The guests paused and looked at one another. ` It is a blast of wind among the pines,' said one. It is the howl of a pack of wolves,' said other; and the music pealed forth again, and the dance went on. But again it rose, that fearful wail, piercing the air and echoed back by the rocks and caverns. It came from the opposite side of the river. The music ceased, the dancers, whole company, poured out into the piazza. There, in the full light of the harvest moon; there, upon the highest summit of the opposite tower-like rock, sat Lulu, queen of the Shenandoahs, singing her death-song. As the bridegroom reached the spot she ceased, cleared the air with a sudden bound, and plunged into the waters beneath. Such was the end of the beautiful queen of the Shenandoahs. Such the legend of the Lover's Leap."
As we said, we had it ALL wrong thinking two lovers leapt to their deaths rather than face the opprobrium of society. Rather it was simply a case of the Indian again being screwed by the White Man.
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