Tuesday, March 29, 2016


In getting up a party to visit Lake Drummond [in the Dismal Swamp*], you will always find more or less of the party who are afraid of snakes. On this occasion the party consisted of only three—Smith, Jones and Brown—all citizens of Suffolk [VA].
“They prepared themselves with the necessary outfit and started for the canal. Their boat being ready they embarked and soon were on the way. Smith being the most expert took the wheel, Brown placed himself at the bow, so that he could ward off approaching danger, and Jones, who was the timid one of the party, was put amidship the boat, with his back to Brown.
“I knew the parties well; they are all living, and I will narrate the snake story as I was told by Brown, who will vouch for its authenticity.
“They had not passed the great terror to all who go to the Lake (Paradise Old Fields), where can be seen everything that is hideous; a place that is dreaded, and if it could, would be shunned by every one who visits the Lake. Things of most unquestionable shapes have been seen by persons when passing it.
“No one has ever given any account of the history of the Field, which you are compelled to pass going to Lake Drummond, and which has deterred many from venturing to it. Owing to the many snake stories that has been told by persons who said they were born to see spirits, there can be no doubt that there is a legend connected with that Field. Some have argued that the Field was at one time filled with grottos, and that the fairies of Lake Drummond would leave their realm and by a subterranean passage into it to bask in the beauties which surrounded it. Profane history informs us that it was at this place that Pluto and Proserpine left for the infernal regions. That will make no difference about the snake story that I will relate.
Taken from Gunna Fish Oz at http://gunnafishoz.com/stories/snakes-on-a-boat/ 

“A snake is a wonderful reptile, and it is not necessary for one to be seen that one should be frightened. The very mention, in some instances, is sufficient to scare those who are the least timid. So it was in this instance. Jones, as I have said before, was one of a party that were going to the Lake. He was afraid of snakes. Smith and Brown knew it and they determined to have a little sport at his expense.
“Jones was highly delighted with the grandeur of the scenery by the side of the canal, as they rode along, and was expatiating upon the wonders of nature. Smith was charmed with the romantic effusions of Jones, and paid no attention to Brown, who was sitting at the bow of the boat, here looked toward him, and seeing that he was intently searching for something, asked what was the matter.
“Brown answered that a snake was in the boat and that he was trying to find it. Here Jones commenced to twist and squirm.
"Hallo!" said Brown: "here's another!"
“No sooner had he said another when Jones sprang into the canal. He made several lunges and, Peter like, looked as if he was walking on the water. Smith added more steam to the boat and Jones was overhauled and taken into the boat, very much frightened.
“They had not gone very far when Brown said: "I believe that snake is in the boat yet," and at the same time threw at Jones a piece of rattan, which is good to scare one with—it's a veritable snake.
“He was again taken into the boat, quite exhausted and cold from his ablutions. Brown prepared some ciderberry juice for him, with some pepper and other things that they had along which, after taking, Jones became more quiet.
“Brown says that when he thinks about that snake story it fills him so with laughter that he has to buckle a strap around him to support his physical organization. Jones has not ventured to the Lake since that time, and Brown is afraid to tell him that the snake in the boat was only a piece of rattan. If you want to see snakes come to Suffolk and get Brown to go with you to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp, and he will amuse you to your heart's content.”

*The Dismal Swamp lies in Gates, Pasquotank and Camden Counties, NC and southeastern VA between Norfolk, VA and Elizabeth City, NC.  The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1973, contains over 112,000 acres of wetland forests. North Carolina added to this the Dismal Swamp State Park which protects 22 square miles of wetlands. This park features 20 miles of wilderness trails.

[Taken from The Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond:Early Recollections, by Robt. Arnold, 1888. Another story taken from from this book is "Bear Hunting in the Dismal Swamp"]

No comments:

Post a Comment