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The Envy of Manitou

Myths and Legends of Our Own Lands

Charles M. Skinner

Behind the mountains that gloom about the romantic village of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, was once a lake of clear, bright water, its winding loops and bays extending back for several miles. On one of its prettiest bits of shore stood a village of the Leni Lenape, and largest of its wigwams, most richly pictured without, most luxurious in its couching of furs within, was that of the young chief, Onoko. This Indian was a man of great size, strength, and daring. Single-handed he had slain the bear on Mauch Chunk [Bear Mountain], and it was no wonder that Wenonah, the fairest of her tribe, was flattered when he sued for her hand, and promptly consented to be his wife. It was Onoko's fortune in war, the chase, and love that roused the envy of Mitche Manitou.

One day, as the couple were floating in their shallop of bark on the calm lake, idly enjoying the sunshine and saying pretty things to each other, the Manitou arose among the mountains. Terrible was his aspect, for the scowl of hatred was on his face, thunder crashed about his head, and fire snapped from his eyes. Covering his right hand with his invincible magic mitten, he dealt a blow on the hills that made the earth shake, and rived them to a depth of a thousand feet. Through the chasm thus created the lake poured a foaming deluge, and borne with it was the canoe of Onoko and Wenonah. One glance at the wrathful face in the clouds above them and they knew that escape was hopeless, so, clasping each other in a close embrace, they were whirled away to death. Manitou strode away moodily among the hills, and ever since that time the Lehigh has rolled through the chasm that he made. The memory of Onoko is preserved in the name of a glen and cascade a short distance above Mauch Chunk.

It is not well to be too happy in this world. It rouses the envy of the gods.

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