Monday, March 05, 2007

The Black Swamp of Chepatchet: Part 11

"It was a quest of the grotesque and terrible – a search for Dark Swamp, in Northwestern
Rhode-Island, of which Eddy had heard sinister whispers among the rusticks. They whisper
that it is very remote and very strange, and that no one has ever been completely thro’ it
because of the treacherous and unfathomable potholes, and the antient trees whose thick
boles grow so closely together that passage is difficult and darkness omnipresent even at
noon, and other things, of which bobcats – whose half-human howls and heard in the
night by peasants near the edge – are the very least. It is a very peculiar place, and no house
was ever built within two miles of it. The rural swains refer to it with much evasiveness,
and not one of them can be induc’d to guide a traveler through it; altho’ a few intrepid hunters
and wood-cutters have plied their vocations on its fringes. It lyes in a natural bowl surrounded
by low ranges of beautiful hills; far from any frequented road, and known to scarce a dozen persons outside the immediate country. Even in Chepachet, the nearest village, there are but two men who ever heard of it. Eddy discover’d its rumour at the Chepachet Post Office one bleak autumn evening when huntsmen gather’d about the fire and told tales and exprest wonder why all the squirrels and rabbits had left the hills and fled across the plain into Connecticut. One very antient man with a flintlock said that IT had moved in Dark Swamp, and had cran’d ITS neck out of the abysmal pothole beneath which IT has ITS immemorial lair.
And he said his grandfather had told him in 1849, when he was a very little boy, that IT
had been there when the first settlers cam; and that the Indians believed that IT had always
been there. The antient man with the flintlock was the only one present who had ever heard of Dark Swamp."

—Letter to Frank Belknap Long, November 8, 1923

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