In the lower part of the township of Cavendish, Vermont, the Black River seeks a lower level through a gorge in the foot-hills of the Green Mountains. The scenery here is romantic and impressive, for the river makes its way along the ravine in a series of falls and rapids that are overhung by trees and ledges, while the geologist finds something worth looking at in the caves and pot-holes that indicate an older level of the river. At a turn in the ravine rises the sheer precipice of Lover’s Leap. It is a vertical descent of about eighty feet, the water swirling at its foot in a black and angry maelstrom. It is a spot whence lovers might easily step into eternity, were they so disposed, and the name fits delightfully into the wild and somber scene; but ask any good villager thereabout to relate the legend of the place and he will tell you this:
About forty years ago a couple of young farmers went to the Leap—which then had no name—to pry out some blocks of the schistose rock for a foundation wall. They found a good exposure of the rock beneath the turf and began to quarry it. In the earnestness of the work one of the men forgot that he was standing on the verge of a precipice, and through a slip of his crowbar he lost his balance and went reeling into the gulf. His horrified companion crept to the edge, expecting to see his mangled corpse tossing in the whirlpool, but, to his amazement, the unfortunate was crawling up the face of a huge table of stone that had fallen from the opposite wall and lay canted against it.
“Hello!” shouted the man overhead. “Are you hurt much?”
The victim of the accident slowly got upon his feet, felt cautiously of his legs and ribs, and began to search through his pockets, his face betraying an anxiety that grew deeper and deeper as the search went on. In due time the answer came back, deliberate, sad, and nasal, but distinct above the roar of the torrent: “Waal, I ain’t hurt much, but I’ll be durned if I haven’t lost my jack-knife!”
And he was pulled out of the gorge without it.