Harry Main: The Treasure and the Cats
by Charles M. Skinner
Ipswich had a very Old Harry in the person of Harry Main, a dark-souled
being, who, after a career of piracy, smuggling, blasphemy, and
dissipation, became a wrecker, and lured vessels to destruction with
false lights. For his crimes he was sent, after death, to do penance on
Ipswich bar, where he had sent many a ship ashore, his doom being to
twine ropes of sand, though some believe it was to shovel back the sea.
Whenever his rope broke he would roar with rage and anguish, so that he
was heard for miles, whereon the children would run to their trembling
mothers and men would look troubled and shake their heads. After a good
bit of cable had been coiled, Harry had a short respite that he enjoyed
on Plum Island, to the terror of the populace. When the tide and a gale
are rising together people say, as they catch the sound of moaning from
the bar, "Old Harry's grumbling again."
Now, Harry Main—to say nothing of Captain Kidd—was believed to have
buried his ill-gotten wealth in Ipswich, and one man dreamed for three
successive nights that it had been interred in a mill. Believing that a
revelation had been made to him he set off with spade, lantern, and
Bible, on the first murky night—for he wanted no partner in the
discovery—and found a spot which he recognized as the one that had been
pictured to his sleeping senses. He set to work with alacrity and a
shovel, and soon he unearthed a flat stone and an iron bar. He was about
to pry up the stone when an army of black cats encircled the pit and
glared into it with eyes of fire.
The poor man, in an access both of alarm and courage, whirled the bar
about his head and shouted "Scat!" The uncanny guards of the treasure
disappeared instanter, and at the same moment the digger found himself up
to his middle in icy water that had poured into the hole as he spoke.
The moral is that you should never talk when you are hunting for
treasure. Wet, scared, and disheartened, the man crawled out and made
homeward, carrying with him, as proof of his adventure, a case of
influenza and the iron bar. The latter trophy he fashioned into a latch,
in which shape it still does service on one of the doors of Ipswich.