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Dr. Troyer - Legend 1

More than half a century has flown by since first I came to this country. Then I was a boy, with all the elastic vigour and freshness of youth; now I am old and decrepid, fast hastening to the shadowy land. But far greater has been the change in the land of my adoption. Then it was one vast unbroken wilderness, the favourite haunt of the deer and the savage. Now, it is green with grain fields, and thickly studded with towns and villages. But still, believe me, when I think of those good old times, my aged eyes moisten, and I sigh, "Alas,! How changed!" Few, few indeed, are left of that stouthearted, valiant band who, side by side with me, waged relentless warfare on the forest. All, nearly all, are gone before me - their names, their very existence is almost forgotten. Oh! How the impious present disregards the sacred past! I seem to myself an unheeded, neglected remnant of a forgotten race, and I sigh to be with them and at rest. But ere I sink into the grave, and into oblivion, I will inflict on you some of my memories of your ancestors, some incidents in the early history of your country that ought to be remembered; and these I shall term, "The Legends of Long Point Bay." - K (the indicated author of this story) - From 'The British Canadian', February 9, 2023

Among the early settlers of Long Point Bay, not an inconsiderable number came from the region of the Hudson and the Catskills, from the drowsy land of Rip Van Winkle, and the haunted shades of Sleepy Hollow. These sturdy men brought into the country with their seed corn and potatoes, a firm and unwavering faith in witchcraft. Prosperity smiled on their cereals, their tubers, and their superstitions. The disappearing forest gave way to the blossoming vine and the tasselled corn, and the rude and sparse spirit-creations of the red man yielded the domain of the air to teeming multitudes of fairies, ghosts and goblins. Witches riding broomsticks swarmed in the midnight darkness as thick as crows in autumn. Fiends and demons dwelt in the jungles of Long Point, and swept like clouds of darkness over the sleeping waters of the Bay. Woe to the hapless settler who did not read his bible, who did not observe his charms and incantations. Blight destroyed his crops, murrain his cattle, spectres haunted him, paralysis prostrated him, his tongue forsook its office, and ten thousand other annoyances fell upon him; his horse balked, his cows gave bloody milk, his children caught the itch, or wakened from their sleep with black eyes and bloody noses, the butter wouldn't come, his rifle missed its mark. But even the most punctilius observance of all the prescribed rites could not avert the occasional affliction.

Strange to say, into this rough and wild country, came a man of extended and profound learning - a Doctor Troyer - a graduate of one of the old German Universities, who had taken his degree, first in Divinity, and afterwards in Medicine; and when a brilliant career was opening to him in the fatherland, for some unaccountable reason, set out for the wilds of Canada, and moved to the shore of the Bay where he spent the rest of his life. In the doctor's library were several strange looking, musty volumes, treating of necromancy and witchcraft, in which he believed as sincerely and steadfastly as he did in his own existence. With these and his jalap, he administered to all the bodily ills of the community; where the latter failed to relieve the afflicted, the former was always successfully resorted to. But the doctor, himself, with his sacred calling and all his learning and skill, was not proof against the multitudiness machinations of that host of evil spirits that burdened the air around him. Many were the annoyances he was subjected to. One witch of that neighbourhood, especially favoured by the devil, directed her energies successfully against him. Her victories against him were the sore places in his existence.

I am dialing up no fiction - writing no fanciful story. The doctor is fresh in the memory of many still living. I see him now with his long white locks and flowing beard, seated by the huge fire that blazed and crackled on the old-fashioned hearth, relating to his assembled neighbours the stories I am about to tell you, with the air of one who has pierced the mysteries of the spirit-world.

This witch, tormentor of the doctor, a remarkably pretty woman, with black eyes that were lanquishing, soft, and seductive; or, at her will, flashed venom and scathing lightning - black-eyed women are always witches. When the doctor first saw Mrs. M., he suspected with whom he had to contend, and if he still harboured a doubt as to her subservience to the devil, it was dispelled, when, one day, she came to call on Mrs. Troyer, and he, perceiving her as she came through the gate, quickly placed a broomstick across the doorway - no witch can cross a broomstick thus placed. To her knock he opened the door, and smilingly, with an air of triumph, as he looked down at the broomstick, asked her to come in, when, to the doctor's horror, the broomstick moved by an unseen hand, rose from the floor, and quietly took its accustomed place in the corner, while Mrs. M. passed through the doorway, seemingly unconcious of the obstacle.

Time passed - One pleasant Indian summer day, the doctor shouldered his rifle, and started for the forest in quest of deer. On the way he was suddenly startled from a reverie by a merry musical laugh, and as he turned round, from the window of her house, which he was passing, Mrs. M. sang out -

"The deer is fleet in the wild wood,
The bullet is erring and vain."

He pursued his way. Did she mean his rifle should miss its mark? He was a crack marksman, and never missed. Scarcely had he entered the wood, when a beautiful doe bounded before him, stopped suddenly, turned and looked at him full in the face. Quick as thought, he brought his rifle to his shoulder, levelled and fired, when, to his surprrise and chagrin, the doe did not fall dead at his feet; but, unharmed, went skipping lightly away, and fromn the thicket in which she disappeared, came the same merry laugh he had heard in the morning. Filled with wonder, and mechanically advancing, he had gone but a short distance when, to his surprise, the same handsome doe confronted him again, looking at him with an expression that said, "Hulloa, old boy, how d'ye do?" Again he levelled and fired, and again she went springing away, and the distance that shut her from his view again gave back the same merry mocking laugh.

Three times on that memorable day did the same fearless light-skipping doe confront him; three times his erring bullet failed; and three times she went bounding away into the distant thicket that rang again with the same merry, musical, mocking laugh and as, wearied, chagrined, and disappointed, he turned homeward, he could have sworn he heard, he knew whom, following his footsteps singing -

"The doe is fleet in the wild wood,
The bullet is erring and vain."

And for the first time in his life, the doctor admitted himself and his rifle bewitched.