Balanced Rock

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Balanced Rock, or Rolling Rock, near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is a mass of limestone that was deposited where it stands by the great continental glacier during the ice age, and it weighs four hundred and eighty tons (estimated) in spite of its centuries of weathering. Here one of the Atotarhos, kings of the Six Nations, had his camp. He was a fierce man, who ate and drank from bowls made of the skulls of enemies, and who, when he received messages and petitions, wreathed himself from head to foot with poison snakes. The son of this ferocious being inherited none of his war-like tendencies; indeed, the lad was almost feminine in appearance, and on succeeding to power he applied himself to the cultivation of peaceful arts. Later historians have uttered a suspicion that he was a natural son of Count Frontenac, but that does not suit with this legend.

The young Atotarho stood near Balanced Rock watching a number of big boys play duff. In this game one stone is placed upon another and the players, standing as far from it as they fancy they can throw, attempt to knock it out of place with other stones. The silence of Atotarho and his slender, girlish look called forth rude remarks from the boys, who did not know him, and who dared him to test his skill. The young chief came forward, and as he did so the jeers and laughter changed to cries of astonishment and fear, for at each step he grew in size until he towered above them, a giant. Then they knew him, and fell down in dread, but he took no revenge. Catching up great bowlders he tossed them around as easily as if they had been beechnuts, and at last, lifting the balanced rock, he placed it lightly where it stands to-day, gave them a caution against ill manners and hasty judgments, and resumed his slender form. For many years after, the old men of the tribe repeated this story and its lesson from the top of Atotarho’s duff.

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