State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Strange Tale of 1888- Conclusion

The Seal Broken continued from October 22nd, 25th, and 28th . . .

While making another circuit of the apartment we were startled by an exclamation from Tupps. "The Devil." he cried, and a blaze of fire leaped from the muzzle of his gun. A shower of hail fell around us. and a most astounding report followed the discharge. The sound was most terrific as it roiled and reverberated through the caverns, and was echoed and re-echoed down the aisles and passages until it died away like a receding storm cloud. We looked up, and for some time were rooted to the spot in consternation. Immediately over us stood a gigantic form. His eyes gleamed in the firelight, two horns arose at the temples, his arms were outstretched, his body writhed, and from it dropped the glittering hail stones. Braddenham was the first to recover, and going boldly up to the monster struck him a blow with his hatchet, which caused another down pour of hail. But that blow dispelled the illusion. The Devil was a stone image at least twelve feet high, mounted on a pedestal about three feet high. As the flames on the altar mounted higher we were enabled to make a closer examination. The rude figure was evidently designed to inspire the beholder with terror. The eyes were two glittering stones, the horns appeared to be the tusks of some large animal, the nose was aquiline, the features most repulsive, and from the open mouth protruded sharp, white teeth and tasks of bone. Around the arms and neck of the giant strings of beads and shells were fastened with cooper wire, and thus covered the body like a garment. As many of these beads and shells had been cut away by the charge of bird shot in Tupp's gun, the mystery of the hail-storm was explained. We were much gratified to find our devil to harmless, and in retaliation for the scare he had given us treated him with some indignities. We broke off his tusks, attempted to pull out his eyes, and stripped him of his garment of shells. Lane was not satisfied until he seated himself astride the neck of the monster, where, holding on by the horns, he exclaimed: "Bonets el grates Diabolus un vinxi." Lane is a scholar, and says this is Chaldaic, meaning "The good and great fear of the devil."

                                                            THE TOMB OF KINGS.
This statue stood about six feet from the side of the cave. Behind it we discovered an arched doorway, and this we concluded to follow. About 100 yards further on we entered another but somewhat smaller chamber. The first thing to attract our attention was the snowy appearance of the door. The fine white sand was as hard and as compact as marble. The walls and ceiling were covered with conch and other shells of snowy whiteness or beautifully tinted. It was a palace of pearl; but soon we found that it was also a charnel-house. On stone tables, and in niches in the walls, hundreds of skeletons were seen. We did not lose much time in the examination of those repulsive objects. At one aide of this apartment there was a stone dais, approached by three steps, on which was a chair or bench, also of stone. Back of this was an arched opening, and across it extended a rod of bone or ivory, on which were several copper rings. Passing through this opening we entered a circular room, about fifteen feet in diameter, and here saw a skeleton lying on a table of hewn granite. There were many other articles piled on the table with the bones. Among them we found stone tomahawks and arrow-heads, bow of ivory, a rusty cutlass, many strings of beads, and at the foot the skeleton of a dog. The only article we bought of sufficient value to bring away was a large clay pipe with a silver band round it, on which was engraved: "To the Puissant Warrior and Mighty Potentate, Powhatan. From his trusty brother, Sir Thomas Dale." On looking at our watches we now found that it was 5 o'clock in the afternoon. We had been walking nearly ten hours, and were tired and hungry. Only few of the numerous caverns had been explored, but we concluded to return and pursue the investigation at another time. On the way back we had occasion to congratulate Braddenham on fore sight in furnishing a guide. Without the string we would not have been enabled to have found our way through the labyrinth of passages. When we emerged from the opening into daylight we experienced a feeling of relief, but a bewildering sense of having passed the hours in dreamland. An extract from the writings of Captain John Smith, as published, may appropriately close this account of our discoveries. In "Voyages and Discoveries," speaking of the Indian, he says: 
"But their chief God they worhsip is the Divill. Him they call Oke,and serve him more of feare than love. * * * ln their temples they have his image evill favouredly carved and then painted and adorned with copper, and heads; and covered with, a skin in such manner as the deformity may well suit with such a God. "Their principall Temple or place of superstition is at Uttamussack. Upon the top of certaine redde sandy hills in the woods, there are three great houses filled with Images of their Kings and Devills and Tombes of their Predecesors. This place they count holy as that none but the Priestess and Kings dare come onto them, nor the Salvages dare not go up the river in boates by it, but that they sollemnly cast some piece of copper, white beads, or Pocones into the river, for fear their Oke should be offended and revenged of them. They have also divers conjurations. One they made when Captain Smith was their prisoner.
"Again, after briefly relating the incident of his rescue by Pocahontas, Captain Smith, in his General History, says:

"Two days after, Powhatan having disguised himself in the most fearefullest manner he could, caused Captain Smith to be brought forth to a great house in the woods, and there upon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not, long after, from behind a mat that divided the house was made the most dolefullest noyss he ever heard: then Powhatan, more like a Divill than a man, with some two hundred more as black as himselfe, cae unto him and told him. now they were friends, and presently he should go to Iames towne, to send him two greate gunnes and a gryndstone, for which he would give him that Country of Capahowsick, and forever esteeme him as his son Nantaquoud."
This is the valiant soldier's short and modest account of the strange ceremonies by which he was adopted as the son of Powhatan. The full story may have been written by him, but the friend to whose discretion he committed the publication of his writings foresaw with prophetic ken that scoffers in the nineteenth century would charge the hero as a lying braggart, and he wisely withheld it from the world. The mysteries of the cave have been as a sealed book for nearly three hundred years, and on the 1st day April, Anno Domini 1888, the seal has been broken and the way has been opened to the temple of Oke and the tombs of a royal line.                                                    
D. C. R.

- Richmond Dispatch, 1 April 1888

You will notice the date of publication
More tomorrow on this strange tale.

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