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The Bottomless Black Pond

The Bottomless Black Pond image
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About half a ïnile froin the town ot' l:in Ford, thfir was au ejtenslye aml beautit'ul pieee o!' forest lund. Afiiny of tlie trees were large and picturesque, the groundbeneatli them was genemlly free froin unpleasant undergrowth anl bushes, mul, in soine plnce8, it wMcorered with non and delicately-colored wild llowers; there were green, open glades, where the bright sunshine played fantastic tricks with the shadows of the surrounding trees, aml. alto{fetlier, the Denford foiest was a deliga tf ui place, and nny visitor, of ordinary rcasouin_' powera, would baverappoMd it to bea favorite resort of the towns-people. But it was not so; very frw people, exceptintr now aml then some boys of a disobedient turn of mind, ever visited it. The reason for this was the f act that near the ceuter of the woods lay a large pond which liad a bad reputation. This pond aa Bq laVge that in some purts of this country, where suoh bodies of water are not comüKiii, it would have been called a lake. In ordinary cases the presence of such a sheet of water would have greatly added to the attractions of the place, but tliis pond exercised an influence which overbalanced all the attractive beauties of the woods, and made it a lonely and de9erted spot. Tlie reaëon ot this was the peculiar rop„tation of tlie Black Pond. A great man y strange tliings were said about it. lts color was enough to mystify some people, and terrify others, for it was as black as ink. l'ersons wbo had stood upon its edge and had looked down upon it, and over its wide expanse, were unable to see an inch below the surface of the Vftter, which, 11stead of being transparent, appeared, when there was no wind, like one of those dark-colored mirrors called "Claude Lorraine glasses," in which a whole landscape is reflected like a living picture, with all its proportious, its perspectiva and its colors, perfectly preserved. It might have been guppoaed that this lake would have presented an attractive picture on bright days, when the sky, the clouds and the overhanging foliage were rellected in its smoothj and polished surface; but water which is as dark as ink is not the kind of water that people genera 11 y like to look at. There are ordiuary ponda and lakes and rivera, in which the sky, clouds aud trees are retlected in a way that is good enough for anybody. But although it was in color such a blot upon the beauty of theDanford woods, the blackness ot this pond was not the greatest objection to it. The most dreadful thing about it was that it had no bottoni ! There is soniething truly terrifying in the idea of a body of water that is bottomless. There ure persons who would fecl muc)i rr In sailing over those portions of the t)cean wliich have been proved to be fivc or six niilrs deep, than over the vast expanses of rolling billows where bottom has never been found. Aml it was well known that bottom had never been found in the Black Pond. Sons had henrd this from their fathers, and fathers from their fathers, for Danford wns an old town, and the Black Pond had always been the same as far back as the local history and the traditions went For a long time no uttempts at sounding or examiniug in any way the waters of the pond had been made. Any undertaking of the kind would have been too dangerous. There was no boat on the pond, and it was not easy to carry one there, and if persons wished to go out. in the middle of the pond to make soundings, a raft would have to be built and the consequences to any one falling oir this would be too terrible to contémplate. Even the best swimmer would fenr to flnd himself in water where he would probably become cramped and sink, and be sucked down, and down, and nobody knows where. In the winter, when the pond wasfrozen over, and so might have offered a temptation to the skating boys of the town- for there are boys who think that any kind of water is safe If it is covered with ice- the parentsandguardiansofDanfordsosternly forbade any venturing on the surfnee of that dangerous pond that no owner of gkates ever dared to try them on the dark ice which covered a still darkcr mystery bt-neath. In fact, those boys who liad even vcntured to the edge of the pond, in winter or summer, liad generally been fellows, as has been Intimated before, who hai! been told never to o ncar it. And o it happened that the presence of this dismal piece of water made people unwilliti": that their childrcn shoukl o in to the woothï, for fear that they might wamlcr to the ]xiicl. And, a they did not wish to do tlicmselves what they had forbidden to i their cluldren, they took their own rural walks in other directiong, and the woods thus setting a bad name throughout tluit country, gradually becanie quite loiicly and deserted. At the time of our story there lived In the town of Danford a man nunied Curtís Blake, who was well known on account of , a peculiar personal characteristic. He bad no iirtns. He 'had been a soldier and had . lost them both in battle. Curtis was a strong, well-made man, and . as he had a very good pair of legs left to him after the miffortunes of war, he used them in going errands and in dolng anythinje by which walking could be made useful and profitable. But, as there was , not much employment of this kind to be had, he frequently found himself with a great deal of time- not on his hands exictly- but which he could not ooshr ftnploy. Consequently he used to ' ramblc about a good deal In a purposelese ' sort of way, and one summer afternoon he 1 ranibled in the Oanfonl woodü. He found it very cool and pleasant here, ' ind he could uot help thinking what a pity y it was that the towns-peopTe could not ' make a resort of these woods, which were ' jo convenient to the town and so { ful in cvery way. But, of course, he knew ' it would never do for families, or for any Jiie, in fact to frequent the vicinity of sucli ï dangerous piece of water U the Black t Pond. t And, thinking of the Btftck Pond, he walked on iintil he carne i it and itood opon iis edgig, razing thojrhtfully out apoa its smooth and Bombre surface. "lf I had anus," taid ('urtis to hiniself. 'Til fío tO wolk umi (iml out just how deep Uila pond is. l'ii have a bont carted over from Steven'i [niet - u's oniy tour or flve miles- and IM row out into tlic middle of the pond w ï 1 1 1 all tlie clothes-line 1 could biiy or borrow in tlic towu, and IM let down a good, lioavv lead, that wouldn't be pulled about by curreuts. I'd tasten ou line alter line, and j tnitiK lliere wou ia eeitainly be onoiigh rope in ihe whole town to rcacli to the bottoni. Bnt, linvinr no anus, I oouldnt lowera line, even if I had a boat. So 1 can't do t, and 1 nm not golng to advUe any olher l'olks to tiy it, for ten to one iiny'.i fet ezctted and tumble orerboan), and tlieie wüuld bu an end of thein, and I'd gel the blam of il. Bat I'd like to tnow, anywav, liow smni tlie bottom begins to shelve down steep. If we knexv that, we could teil it' tbere'd be any dauger to a llttle codeer who mlgbt tumble In from the shore. And If it does shelve Midden, the town OUght to ]uit up a high fence all around it. Tve a niind to try how deep it is near shoiv." If Cui tis liad been liko. other men, he would havo cut a Ion-r pole and tried the depth of the pond a short distance from land. But he could not do that, and there was only one way in whlofa he could carry out liis plan, and that he determinad to try. lle would careiully wade in and teel willi hls feet for the plnee where the bottom beeran to shelve down. This was a raíli and bold proceeding, bnt Curtís was a bold fellow and not verv prudent, and he had lecome very inucli intere.sted in Onding out Bometbing about the bottom of tlils pond. li was uni aften, how, that he had nythlng to interest him. II,. uur,. hlfl luidt-, in wlneli lic liail often wadeil, and his dollies were tliin lm en, oí' not rerygiiml quallly, so that fthey bceame blackeued by tUe water i woulil not matter imich. A i'or taWnjr oolil when lie carne out, ('nriis nefer thouglil of that lie was a rougb fellow and could soondry liimself ín tlic siin. Harina made up Mu rnlnd, lie illd not farther üelay, bul etepped cautlously luto the water. Even near tiie ahore Ite could iioi íee tlic li.iitoin, and lie moved very slowly out, (reling his way careullv with one foot befo re lic made a step. íle did not expect the bottoin would begin to descerní rapldly very near the ihore, hut as lie got out ten or lifteen feet from land and found tlie water consMerably above liis baees, lie begnn to take still greater precáulioiiá. He advanced sideways, standIng on oiie foot and Itretchlng the otlier Ojie out as lar as he could, to make sure tliat he was nol 06 tlie edge f an iinseen precipic. ín tliis way lie went slowly on and i n, tlie water putting deeper and deeper. until it was up to bis waist. He now lell a sllgbt lise in (lie bottom befoic liim. l'li made liim vei y cantious, l'or lie knew tliat wlieic Aere vu a great opening down uto the bowels of the eartli tlieie was, almo8t alwaya, a low mound tlirown up around it, and mound lie liad probably reaclied. It slopeil up very jrently on th'c Slde lio lo lu. wii . ).. " "¦- -.i...". ..;,i,. ii mifrlit fío lUMvn iilmost perpeudicularly. So no man ever moved inore slowly through tlie water Ulan did Curtís now. A lew nehes nt a time, still C-elini; lefore liim with one foot, lie went euutiously on. lie wiis very inueli exeited, and even 11 little afraid tliat lie inlght iiiniHare reacli tlie udgooi the preeipiee, or tliat the grouml murhl suddenly cramble beneath hiñi. lie had not intended to venture in so lar. Uut he did not turn back. He must go a little further. He liad almogt reaclied the edge of tlie great mystery of ihe lilack Pona! I!ut íie had nol reaclied it yet. Tlie grounU on which he stood still rose, although by slow dejírees, so tliat lie n rcally biglier out of water tban be had been ten minutes befóle. Boddenty he lookod up from tlie water, down opon wliieh he luid been gazlns as if he had expacted to see some deeper blackncss benettth its bíadt Burface, AndglanMd iu front of him. 'l'hcu be turned and looked bidiind liim. Tben he stood still, and gave a jtreat shout. The shout echoed from the lurrounding woods; tlie birds and tlie insects, and tlie rabbits, which tlew, and hummed, and juniped about so treely in tliose ROlttudeS, must have been ainazed! Siich a shout liad not been beard iiear the lilack Pond, in the meinoiy of any living thing. It was repeated again and aguin, and t was a .-hout of lausflltftr! JSo wonder Curtís laughed. He was a good deal more tban half way across the pond! He had walked right over the place where tliat mysterious dcpth was supposed to be, and tbe water bad not. reaclied liis slmuldera. Tlie graddni ri-c in the bottom, wliieh be luppowd to be a nioiuid. mi tlie risc toward tlie oppoaite shorel When Curtís Blaku bad finlsbed laugliIng, he puished Ihrough the water as las! M he could go - he ni most ran - and in a very few minutes he ëtood on the bank, at the otlier side of tlie pond. 11c turned and looked back over the water. He had crossed over tbc vcry niiddle of the pond! Theii lie l:iurhcd andlaughed again, forfrettinjr his wet clothes. foifíetting evcrytbing bilt the het be, without ropesor lead or boat or raft, or even anus, liad foiind the bottom of tliis dreaded piece of water, tliat he liad nctually put his foot lipón the fíicat mvsterv of the lilack l'nn.l ! Wlien bis me niment and delight oefran to quiet down a little, he waded into tlie water agAin, at a dill'erent poí nt from tliat where he carne out, and crossed the pond in auother direction, tliis time walking freely, and as rapidly as lie could go. Thcii he ran in again. and walked about near the niiddle. I n no place was it mtich above the walst. Whcii C'urits was fu 1 1 y conrinced tliat i 1 1 i - n the oase, and that bc had walked ' pretly nearly all over the bottom of Black Pond - at lenst, that part of the bottom where the frater was deepest - he eame out and went back to the town. i Curtís niet no one as lie luirrleü along the road frota the woods, bat M smm as he reached the towu he went into a largo store, wherc lie mi wi'll acqtiainted. There were good many people tbere, waltlnjr for the afternooii mail, for, at one end of the atore vu the pot-office. "Wliy, Curtía Blakel" exclsimed a man, as he entered. "You look as it you liacl been balt drowMd;" "I ought to look tlmt wiiy," 8aul Curtía, "for i'vc been to the boitum of the Black Pond." No one made any response to tliis as(panding aMertlon. The people just stood and looked at one anotuer. Then Mr. l'aulkner, tlie owner of the store, exclnimed; "Curtir, I am ashamed of you! Yon must be tipsy." "No man ever saw me tipsey,'' saiil C' urÜê, without gstttng in the least ungry. lic liad expected to astonish people and muke thcm say straiiffe things. "Theuyouare cnizy," replied Mr.Faulkner, "lor no one could fro o the bottoni of Black Pond and come back alive." "There isu't any bottoni !" cried one of the little orowd. "How rould he ro to the botton wlicn thera is no bottoni there!'" This made the people laugh, but Curtía still perelited that wnat he liad told them w;i cntirely correct. Xotasoul, bowerer, believed bini, and eferybody be;aii to prove to hiin, or to the rest, that what he had said OOUld not possibly bc true. and tlmt it was all stuit' and nonsense. Tbere was so iniich interest n the discussion that no one thought Of gomg to sec f any letters bad come lurliini. There could be no more c( iling newi in any letter or newspaper than tlmt a man ivowed he had gone to the bottoni of Black Pond. "Wcll," said Oartis, ai last, "these clothes are Rettiiifi to teel unplcasant, now that 1'm out of the sun, and I don't wunt to stay here any longer to t:ilk nbout thls thlng. But 111 tcll yon all, and yon mu teil anybody yon choosc, tliat tomorrow morning at nlne o'clock Vm golng ugain to the bottoin of Black Pond. anu any one who has a niind to, can come and see me do it." And with these worde lie walked off. Thera was ¦ great deal of talk that evcningin Danford aboutCurtis Blake'sstnmire Matement and about what he had said lie would do the next day. Most penoofl thovght that he intonded soine hoa or pntciii-iii Joke'; fW a mra n Itliual uru, and who, tlierefore, could not swim, could not jo to the bottom of an ordinary river and expert to come back gal alive. Of ooms.-, any body could go to the bottom and Btay there. There wascertainly aninc triek about it. Curtís was knowu to be fo. I oí a joke. Hut whatever people tkoogfct on the subject, and there were a jfood niany different opinions, every man and boy vilo cdnld tnaaaft to do it made up bis mlnd to tro the next day at nine o'elock and sec what Curtís Blake [tended to do at Black Pond. i.veu if it should turn out to he all a hoax tlns would be a good opportiinity to visit toe famous pond, for with so many people about, there could not be miich danger. Quite a crowd of interested towns-folk asse inbled on the shoie of the Black Pond the next day, and Curtís did not disapooint them. About nine o'elock he walked in among them, weaiing the same boots and clothes wluch he had worn the day before, and tlien after looking aronnd, as if to see that evervbody was paylng attention, lie iWlberatelv walked intothe pond. At tbis, evcrybody held his breath, but ni a moment there arase enlisto hlm to comeback, and not inake a fool of hlm. self. He had no board, no lile prcseí ver, nor anything with whieh he could gave íiiuiseii wiien he should bein to slnk But, feaiful a -i the pedfile rere tor bis safety, not one cluicl to ron In anii pull liini back On be went. us he liad gone before onlv walkinuf a good deal faHer lliis time, and the people now stood still, without speaking a word or making a sound. Every mlnme thcy ezpeoted to see Curtís ilisapiicar irom tlieir íight forever. The birds, the insects and rabbits might have supposed tbat there was nobody about, liad t not been for the swashiug of tlic man wlio was pmhing through the water. As Curtís approached tlie middle of the pond, the excitement became intense, and soinc men turned palé; but when be . nel on and was seen to get into shallower water, people began to breal.he more freely, and when he ran out on the opposite bank there went up a great cheer. Now all was hubbub and confusión. Mort people mw how the matter really was but sonie iersons conkl not comprebend at once, tlmt their long-chertehed Idea that the Hlaek Pond had no huttom was all a mytli and there were incredulous fellows, who were bound to have a reason for their own way of thinking, and who isserted that Curtís had built a bridge nnder water and that he had walleed on it! As fa man without arms, could build a bridge, and walk n it, vritiiuui it i (¦,,..!, nowevcr, 8o8njUi'n enu to all ronjectures and cloubts by walkingover the bottom of the pond, trom one side to the otlier, in various directions, and by wandering nbout in the middle in sucli a way as to prove to every one that there was no mystery at all about the Hlack Pond. nd that il waa notbing but a wide and nearly circular pleoe óf water, with a good hard bottom, and was not tour feet deep in anv part. } The news of this discovery by Cortla Blake made a great Bensatlon in banford. Bome people feit a Iittle a.shained, for tliey had taken a good deal of prlde in telling their friends, wlien tbey went vUiting, about the wonderful pond, ncar tlieïr town, which had no bottom ; but, on the whole, the towua-people were verv lad of the discovery. for now they could" freely enjoy the woods, and many persons were astonished to ünd whata deiightful place it was for picnics and anemoon rambfes' As f no portion of mystery should reiuain about the Black Pond, even thj color of its water was investigated and explained. Boine scientific gentlemen froni a ciiy not faraway, who caine to Danlonl aboui lliis time, and who heard the story of the pond, went out there and examlned luto ihe cause of its inky Ime. Tluy uald that it was due, like the darkneM of the water of many creeks and pools, to the overhansrine grawti oí pine. liL-iulock añil uillur trets wliicli =-- - i 'i'i,.j dia hui c.)iain exactly how lliis darkenlng proce liad been carned on, but they said it probably took hundreds of years to ranke the pond as black as it now was, and nobody doubted that. Bat althouirli the woods and the pond beOame a favorite sumiller resort with the üanford people, it was in winter that they really enjoyó] the place the most. Theu the Black Pond was froen over, and t made the tinest skating ground in that part of the country. And its greatest merk R as its absolute safety. Even if a sniall boy should break throuorh - which was not likèly to happen- any man could step in, or rcacli down and take hini out. The loa was fienerally so thick that there was acarre ly three feet of water beneath it, in the d.ep est. naris On fine days, riuriug the cold months, people came out to the pond in carriages and on foot, and they had gay times, with their skating, and their games on the ice. Uut tliey we hardly so gay ns the folks who could not oome in the diiy-tiinc, but had todo tlieir skating in the eveninji. On moonlight niffhts, tlie pond was beauliful, but the skaterscame on ilark nijrhts, uil the same, for lamp-posts were set up in different p&rulof the pond (holes were cut in the ice and they were planted rtrnily on the bottom), and thus the pond was made as bright and cheerful as the inerriest skater could desfre. A.mong the merriest skaters was Curtís Blake, lor skating was one of the few things he could do, and Mr. Faulkner g&ve him a capita] pair of skates. Hut iliis was not uil tlie reward he recei ved for ROlrlng the mystery of the Black l'ond. Several of theleadingcitizens, who thought thatthe townowed film Bomethlng for givinp it 8uch a pleasaut place of resort, consulted together on the subject, and it was decided to make him keeper of the woods and pond. He had a couple of old men ander him, and it was nis duty to see that the woods were kept in order In sumniir and that the pond was free from snow and obstructions in winter. And thus the i;reat mystery or the Black l'ond camc to an end. Uut tber were elderly people in the town who never went out to the pond, and who believed that a 8omethlnL dreadful would happen there yet. There used to be no bottom to the pond, they said, and they should not wouder if, some day, it should fall out aguiu. "Yes," said Ciirü Blake to one of these, "I expect that will happen - just abont the tune my arras beigin to grow." - John Lowees, in St. Nicholas. Younj; ladies near Manchester ro cuoning pumpkins it seems. - Saline Observer. Ho ron ('o. News: Uepresontativesof the different insurance companies who were loséis by the lires have been in thls rillage and county ndjustinj; lossvs durin the week. l'uyments have generally biin made in fall. Imlay City Herald : Flve teams loaded uilli wlicat, oats, hay, etc, pMIBd tlnoujrh here on Monday en route for C. 1. llarvey's place in Flynn, Sunilac county The men were old friends of "Cbub," and it is their inti'iilion to put in bis and his soiih' wheat. That is the way to do It.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News