The bereft husband had exacted swift retribution of the murderer, on that very rock, and the Indian’s heart blood had left that deep stain in the darker granite as a perpetual memorial of the swift vengeance of the Jacquelin Grays.
This, at least, was what was asserted and believed by the old negroes (and, perhaps, by some of the whites, too, a little). And if the negroes did not know, who did? So Jacquelin often pondered.
Steve Allen, who was always a reckless talker, however, used to say that the stain was nothing but a bit of red sandstone which had out-cropped at the point where that huge fragment was broken off, and rolled along by a glacier thousands of years ago, far to the northward; but this view was to the other children’s minds clearly untenable; for there never could have been any glacier there—glaciers, as they knew from their geographies, being confined to Switzerland, and the world having been created only six thousand years ago.
The children were well grounded by their mothers and Miss Thomasia in Bible history. Besides, there was the picture of the “Indian-killer,” in the black frame nailed in the wall over the fireplace in the great hall, and one could not go anywhere in the hall without his fierce eyes following you with a look so intent and piercing that Mammy Celia was wont to use it half jestingly as a threat effectual with little Jacquelin when he was refracto-ry—that if he did not mind, the “Indian-killer” would see him and come after him.
How often Mammy Celia employed it with Jacquelin, and how severe she used to be with tall, reckless Steve, because he scoffed at the story, and to tease her, threatened, with appropriate gesture, to knock the picture out of the frame, and see what was in the secret cabinet behind it! What would have happened had Steve carried out his threat, Jacquelin, as a boy, quite trembled to think; for though he admired Steve, his cousin, above all other mortals, as any small boy admires one several years his senior, who can ride wild horses and do things he cannot do, this would have been to engage in a contest with something supernatural and not mortal.
Still he used to urge Steve to do it, with a certain fascinating apprehensiveness that made the chills creep up and down his back.