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The sunny South. (Atlanta, Ga.) 1875-1907, November 11, 1876, Image 1

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i * VOL II. JOHN H. SEALS.[proprietor. ATLANTA, GA., SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11. 1876. TERMS, 1 $ IN P ADVANCE N 0. [For The Sunny South.] SABBATII. BY CHARLES W. HUBNER. Hail, holy day, thou crowned of Heaven I Ha 1, best beloved of ah the peveu! How fair, from out tlf empurpled sky, LooIch forth thy glory-beaming eye! Broad from the welkin’* crystal sphere Thy blrs-lug falleth, far and near: While Peace and Love, at either side, Upon thy golden chariot ride. . It may be but a pleading dream— Yet fairest then the earth I deem. Diviner, purer, when thine hours illume her hills, and streams, and flowers ; How sweet the morn and evening hell* ! How green the grove*, how bright the dells ! What blissful sound* are in the trees ! What tender music charms the breeze ! Even the rude Spirit of the Sea Feel* thy angelic ministry. And when thou contest to his breast, Rock* all his wanton waves to rest. Fair Nature owns, in tendercst praise, Thy sovereign loveliness and grace; And from her wreathed altars rise Sweet incense, and soft harmonies. Then, why should I refuse to bring My spirit's grateful offering? Or fail, with gladsome heart, to twine, Dear day. a song-wreath round thy shrine? What, pleasures blossom, and expand To life and light, beneath thy hand ! How bright the hope* by thee that live ! How sweet ihe solace thou canst give ! So flowers, on which the storm hath burst, By sunshine back to life are nursed; So skies look more serenely fair Because the rainbow sbineth there. Oh. blissful day ! how cold and bleak Life’s breath would blow", from week to week— How sad. how dark the flood would be That rolleth by eternally. Didst thou not, on the tide of Time, A golden Isle of Solace shine.— An Eden, in whose radiant bowers The weary soul revives its powers With halm exhaled from angels 1 wings, And draughts from Heaven's unfailing springs ; And where the time-flood's endless sighs. Change to celestial melodies! IFor The Sunny South.] DeSOTO; TIIE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. A STRANGE STORY OE HOT SPRINGS. BY VIRGINIA'S. A short time ago—no matter how long—I came to the Hot Springs in search of relief from an excruciating attack of chronic rheumatism that threatened life i*self. I reached here in a con dition of despondency that he only knows who has had his carpal and tarsal joints wrung with pain and distorted into all sorts of fanciful shapes, his lingers curved back with rigid stiff ness, and his toes making a mighty effort to go back to meet their metatarsal neighbors. Sick, weary, racked with pain and jolted unmercifully in the El Paso coaches, I reached this great san itarium of modern times and yielded myself promptly to treatment. As is tLe routine with all invalids, I sought and selected “my doctor ” and submitted meekly and hopefully to his dicta. I asked no questions, save the inevitable “how much?” after I had received the advice and prescription. I listened to the tales of wonderful cures, told by fatuous convalescents; I listened to hints and suggestions from porters, servants and pro prietors of hotels. I drank hot water from the Big Iron Spring in the morning and from the Liver Spring in the evening, and between times sipped the most insipid of waters from the Ar senic and Magnesia springs, always carrying the ral-can and ral-cup wherever I moved, in doors and out of doors. There is magical effi cacy in this ral-can and ral-cup; it is seen as well as felt?; you dare not ignore it; you cannot rally without your ral-can, and to be fully up to pre scribed and popular regulations, you must em blazon these insignia prominently in view and equip yourself in full armor, a ral-can and cup and a ral-cane. And then you must visit the Ral-Hole and Ral-City, and see the varied and multiplied forms of disease in these classic lo calities. But don’t visit the Blue Goose and the Black Gander—you can find the two latter in other places. 1 bathed in these wonderful thermal waters, and took the baths at the standard temperature for new patients, 93 deg. F., then at blood-heat, | and afterwards at 110 deg. F. Here I was or dered to halt on pain ot instant death, if I should dare to tamper with the marvelous properties of j this hot lime water. But at 110 deg. F. I did | not halt, and boldly crossed the Rubicon of J “instant death” by plunging next day into 122 | deg. F., and came out as red as a boiled lobster— I and yet I was not happy. I lived through it all, I cold, tepid and red-hot; and many a time I have crept up the old black tufa cliff to the Ral-Hole, at the dead hour of midnight, and wallowed in its hot slime and mud with as much abandon as a sick hippopotamus would roll in the slush and grime of the seething Zembezi. Day and night I swallowed that panacea of the Hot Springs treatment, iodide of potassium, until 1 was threatened with iodism, its palsy and quavering voice, its coppery breath and fetid exudations; daily and nightly I drank hot water and bathed in it, reckless of reproof and patient of contempt. I gradually surmounted many of the difficulties of my case, and with cane in hand could climb the tufa cliff, could scale the Whetstone Mountain with its masses of novacu- lite, could traverse the Sugar Loaf Range and hunt the centipede and tarantula with compara tive ease and comfort. These marvelous waters and still more mar velous doctors had put me upon my legs again. I began to wander over the mountains and ex plore the deep, dark valleys. I would sit for hours on the tufa rocks and, with my cane, trace their sinuosities and rifts, and wonder how it all happened. Masses of calcareous tufa, black and gray with age, piled up under the Hot Springs and down to the edge of the little rivulet that Jj>V^runs beneath, and you know and feel that what rt* JQlyou stand and sit on, so black and gray, must w Summering at Sylvan Lake. be older than any calculation of modern science, and older than any myth of folk-lore now ex tant. Look at that stream of hot water, rushing down that little plank trough, steaming hot and heavy with carbonate of lime in solution. In the bottom of that little trough, built two years ago, you will find a filmy deposit, hard and white, brittle and with the tenuity and fragility of glass—only more opaque. This fragile in crustation has been deposited there by these trickling hot waters within the space of two years. Now, look upon the great masses of hoary tufa on which you stand, with its holes, rifts and sinuosities, black and gray with age and exposure to the destructive agencies of air and water, heat and cold —I say, look upon that delicate incrustation, and then upon this mass of rock, and know that each was deposited by these waters, that it required two years or more to form that little crust, and you may calculate at your leisure how many thousands and tens of thousands were passed in shaping this huge mass, with all the disintegrating effects of heat and cold, air and water, storm and sunshine. How old these hills are, how old these springs are, and what meteorological changes occurred thousands of years ago, I will tell you now, and j how I learned it. Whether or not yon believe ! it, gentle reader, it matters not. The folk-lore I I learned in the valley from old mountaineers ! and cove-dwellers, old men and old women, I j will tell you in this story; and how my crippled joints and desperate state of health led me to j search for the Fountain of Youth. I will tell you my story, because I cannot keep it. I can not let such secrets die with me; for secrets of | this kind, like secrets of blood and “murther,” | will out. In my many wanderings over these hills and I through these valleys, I had seen enough of the ; marvelous to excite my amazement and stimu- j late my curiosity to see and learn more. Once, j in a dark cove not far from the Hot Springs ! Valley, I had met an old negro, a centenarian. 1 He said he was horn in old Virginia, had seen General Washington and General LaFayette, had talked familiarly with them, face to face, as friend talks to friend; had seen Tarleton’s troop ers, and had served in the war of 1812 as body servant to some Virginia gentleman, a captain of a light horse company. The romances of the old negro were interesting, if not founded on fact. His looks did not belie the assertion that he was one hundred and twenty-three years old. He looked like a living mummy; his black skin was dry as parchment and clung to his bones as bark clings to a tree when the hot summer sun has dried np the intercellular substance. To use a common expression, he looked hide-bound. His toothless gums, his lack-lustre eyes and snow-white head, proclaimed his advanced age. Whether a hundred or a hundred and fifty, you could see that he was old—very old. I encountered this ancient African in the deep, secluded cove in which his little cabin stood; and towering mountains, wooded to the summit j with pine and oak, their sides ribbed with huge , masses of rock, stood sentinels over this relic of ancient days. Here he lived a hermit's life and professed to cure nearly all diseases to which flesh is heir. He had specifics for dropsy, rheu- j matism, chills, eczema, arthritis, neuralgia, sick headaches and the like. He had only to breathe j on your corns, and they would disappear like j snow before the sun. He told me that once he had met a beautiful young woman on the mountain, who told him i wonderful things; a&d had complained that she could not die. She had told him that there was in these mountains a spring of living waters, and that whoever would drink of its waters would never grow old, would forever be free from sickness or pain, and would enjoy perpet ual youth. I gave the old black dotard a dollar and asked him to show me the place where he had seen her. He pointed out a long range of hills, which he said terminated in the Hot Springs mountain, in which are located all the thermal fountains yet discovered. Again and again he asseverated the truth of liis story, and said he had searched every cove and hollow in all these mountains for this spring of perpetual youth; he had tasted and drank of every spring and rill, and had peered into every cove and cavern, but all to no purpose. He had never again seen the beautiful creature who had told ; this marvelous story; and he was growing weary of the search. He saw me smile incredulously, j and lapsed into deep thought. All at once, he thrust his hand into his bosom and drew out a soiled package of paper, which he carefully un- i folded. “Look here,” said he, “see this! did you j ever see anything like this before?” Within the folds of this soiled, begrimed ' piece of paper, he slowly withdrew what seemed to be a thread of pure, shining gold, so fine that ' it must have been the acme of the gold-spinners’ art. Holding fast to one end of the shining \ thread, he shook its rings and folds out in the \ breeze more than two yards in length; and there he held it fluttering, waving, curling like a live thing in his hand, and streaming in its golden sheen, brighter than a spider’s thread in the morning dew. “ This here is a hair from that young woman’s I head; and as sure as you live, I have seed her and hearn her talk,” he said, as he slowly fold ed and wound the golden thread in concentric circles around his finger, and then replaced it in its paper envelope. I had never before seen anything like it. The dead aspect of the old negro, the solemn, earn est look of the mummy face, the long golden thread which I had touched and knew to be the hair of a woman’s head, longer, more golden, more life-like, more beautiful than any I had ever seen before; all these, with the wild, weird surroundings, the dark pines and the moaning winds sighing through their needle-like leaves, all filled me with a strange, unearthly feeling, and I shivered as with a severe malarial ague. I offered him an additional dollar for this single golden hair; he shook his head; I offered two dollars and up to ten dollars, but all in vain. “No, stranger,” said he, “I would not part with this single hair for all the money you have. It keeps the old man alive; I feel no pain when this little hair is in my bosom. She lost it by its hanging in a bush while she was talking to me, and I found it arter she had vanished, and I have kept it ever since, and I believe, ’fore God that I will never die so long as I keep it in my bosom. You are the fust white man I ever told all this to, and you shall be the last. White folks are so scornful of what they don't know deyselves; and I have been afeared somebody would steal the blessing from the old nigger, for it’s worth more than a hundred millions of dollars to any man what ain’t tired of living.” In vain I pleaded with him to part from this little souvenir of the wonderful and long-lived maiden. There was a rushing sound of wind in the old pine trees and the rolling of distant thunder, and I entreated the old man to part from the golden hair. He refused stoutly, and remained firm as the sandstone on which he stood. A vivid flash of lightning now blinded me, and when I looked around in the blackness of night, the African was gone, and I was alone on the rock in the cove, where we both had stood a few moments before. I called and shout ed until I grew hoarse; the wind roared and raved, the lightning flashed, and the only an swer to my frantic calls were the hootings of owls and the howlings of wolves. I turned my face towards the valley; and long before I had reached the comfortable rooms and friendly lights of the Grand Central Hotel, the rain descended in torrents and drenched me to the skin. Amid all this storm, its hideous night horrors and wild surroundings, the tale of the old negro had driven me almost to madness, unreal, fantastic and extravagant as it might ap pear. I strode along in the pelting rain; and like another “Lear,” I hared my head, now glowing hot, to its pitiless peltings, and cried aloud. I ran, I leaped, shouted, laughed and screamed like a demon at the idea of having touched and fondled a hair, a single hair, from the head of Perpetual Youth. I had never before dreamed of such a thing. I, who had been on the threshold of death so long; I, who had longed and groaned for restoration to health, thus suddenly to be brought into contact with something that told of eternal youth and perfect health, was too much for me. It seemed I could confront the grim monster, Death, and laugh in his face; and in my imagination I saw him shorn of his power; and in the darkness I shook my fist at him and shouted defiance. I leaped from rock to rock, dashed through the mountain torrents, and sped home like one demented, and felt no tightening of ligament or tendon, no stiffening of joint or contraction of muscle, as I sped along in the darkness. “ I will find this maid of perpetual youth,and I will drink of that marvelous spring, if I be forced to hunt every nook and corner of these mountains, their glens and coves; I will search under every rock and leaf until I find her.” The princely possession of that single thread of hair by that old negro filled me with ugly feelings; even that little waif was worth a world to me; and I felt that it would enrich and make me ever blessed, while it could do but little good to the mummified old African, who was nothing more than a breathing icorpse. Oh ! | the long years of health and glory, love and happiness, that were in my grasp while I talked to the old man. How easily I could have snatched it from his palsied fingers and fled away in the darkness ! What a fool! But I de termined to hunt up the old man again, and if possible to possess myself of his treasure. That night, when I laid down to sleep, I saw only the old negro and the thread of hair; I dreamed of them; and when I awoke the next morning, the charm had vanished. I was limp and weak, sore in every muscle, and utterly prostrated. I was a mortal man again, and alone with my human mortality. The old negro’s story was still vivid in my memory, hut its won derful fascination was a little faded, and I felt cheap, very cheap. A week after this I was in a distant valley and mounted on a splendid horse. Suddenly, I came upon a sharp curve in the narrow road, and looking up I saw, seated on a jutting rock far overhead, the form of the old negro, dozing in the sunshine. I shouted to him and attract ed his attention; he leaned forward as if to | listen, and when I called to him to come down, ; he slowly and painfully descended to within a few feet above my head, still clinging to the rocks and lichens. I reminded him of our meeting dnring the storm, and tossed him a half dollar, which he caught and pocketed with the agility of his ancestor—the monkey. I told him in soft and smooth words how I had pondered his wonderful story, and how I longed for an other sight of that golden thread of hair. He listened with apparent curiosity, and with much the grimace of a hoary baboon, when you throw him nuts and gingerbread in his cage. I invited him to come down into the road and once more exhibit his treasure to me. Here, a look of blank amazement crept over his wrinkled face, and a smile of haboonish cuteness rewarded my invitation to come down. I repeated the invitation and tossed another half dollar, which he dexterously caught and pocketed. Then turning his old shriveled vis age full towards me, his nostrils dilated and a look of amazement in his eyes, he said, in purely African tones: “ Look—look here, what dat you say ? I never seed you before in all my life, ’fore God I didn’t; I ain’t got no piece of har, nor nothin’ else. You fool, white man, talkin’ dat way ’bout har! I ain’t seed no har—no white ’oman, eider. If you’s got the trantrums you’d better go to Doctor Garnett and git ’em failed out. If you’s drunk right now, I sgwine away from here, I is.” Astounded at the old negro’s duplicity and angry at his African cunning and assured igno rance, and more, than angry at his cool, direct cut, I watched him ascend the rocky cliff, and when he paused out of my reach, he looked back at me and gave a peculiar shake of the head which none but a negro can give. I here lost my temper, and taking out a small pocket derringer pointed it at him. He grinned deris ively at me, feeling as secure from his pursuer as the monkey does in the summit of the tallest cocoa trees. “ Shoot, if you want to !” he screamed from his place of security—and I did shoot, the ball falling spent and harmless many feet below him. “I never seed you before, in all my life, and I ain’t got no har, white man,”he screamed, and then disappeared from my sight and I nave never seen him since. I went to his cabin a few weeks after this ren counter, but it was deserted. The doors swung wide open and clanked and slapped with every wind. The dirt floor was wet and the ashes in the fire-place were soaked with rain. The old negro had been frightened and had fled from his home. I searched the house, and under a large flag-stone that formed the corner of the rude hearth, I found a few of his medicines and conjurers’ implements. Poor old negro—but he had beaten me with his native talent; he had in his possession a priceless gem that kings and queens would give their crowns to possess. Once it was in my hands, and I could—but how do I know that his story is not one of the thou sands of similar stories that haunt the negro mind—a wild, fetish story, conjured up to ex tort a dollar now and then from a gaping vic tim ? The cool impudence of disowning any knowledge of meeting me before, and his utter and reckless disregard of truth in saying that he had “no har,” was all purely African du plicity; and after a few weeks of intense excite ment on the subject I lapsed into the dull rou tine of the springs, nursingmy improving joints and occasionally joining in the hops and revels at the Grand Central and amusing myself the best I could. Autumn had come on apace, and the wild astor had begun to show its pure blue eyes on the mountain-sides, and to nod and wink from be hind the gray old rocks. The scarlet cardinal’s flower was all aglow on the brooksides, and the feathery ferns hung fantastically to the rocks and streamed out from their crannies and min iature caverns in wild prolusion. Then came a few cold nights, and the forests put on their richest robes. The maple draped herself like Messalina, in scarlet and gold; the tupelo and sweet-gum, the sumach and hickory, the oak and the willow, all vied in varied hues to drape the mountain-sides in unrivaled splendor; and when distance lent enchantment to the view, the rugged cliffs and hills seemed clad in the most gorgeous tapestry. And when the autumn evening sun shone upon these gorgeous colors, the glamour of gold and amber hung about and above all these rare colors and seemed a part of fairy-land. The monotonous life of an invalid at the Hot Springs hangs heavy at times, and I became harassed once more with the yearning wish to ramble about the hills and valleys. The story of the old negro came back to me; the story of the Fountain of Youth; the wonderful story of the maiden who had tasted these waters and thereby gained perpetual youth; the possession by this old negro of a single strand of her hair, which he believed exercised a sort of talismanic charm of preserving his life, forever, maybe—all these came back with renewed strength and filled me with hot enthusiasm. What? Shall I dawdle about these marvelous springs and nurse my stiff joints, bathe torever and swallow potash ad nauseam, and not make a bold effort to get at the fountain-head of all thiB wonderful story ? One drop of that magic water would cure all my stiffened joints and repro duce me fairer than Antinous, stronger than Hercules and longer-lived than Saturn or Zens. Even one thread of that hair from the head of perpetual youth, laid upon my bare bosom, would give me a new lease on life, and I might continue my search for years to find the verita ble fountain itself. A yearning madness now possessed me; day after day I wanderad over the mountains and spent days and nights under the shadow of their great rocks. I missed my cus tomary food and wonted sleep; I lived on the water that trickled down the mountain-sides from a thousand different springs. But what cared I for the food of men or the sleep of mor tals ? I was searching for immortality and per petual youth. This absorbing idea engulphed all the rest, and I actually believed the negro’s story. The calcareous tufa, the novaculite ledges and masses, gneiss, dolomite and serpentine, agate, crystal quartz, smoked topaz, chatoyant opal, and the thousand other rare things of this valley < V vps / IN \ . v i