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The Folktale Project

Sep 29, 2017

The idea of long wandering as a penalty, symbolized in “The Wandering Jew,” “The Flying Dutchman,” and the character of Kundry, in “Parsifal,” has application in the legend of Peter Rugg. This strange man, who lived in Middle Street, Boston, with his wife and daughter, was esteemed, as a person of probity and good manners except in his swearing fits, for he was subject to outbursts of passion, when he would kick his way through doors instead of opening them, bite tenpenny nails in two, and curse his wig off In the autumn of 1770 he visited Concord, with his little girl, and on the way home was overtaken by a violent storm. He took shelter with a friend at Menotomy, who urged him to stay all night, for the rain was falling heavier every moment; but Rugg would not be stayed, and seeing that there was no hope of a dry journey back to town he roared a fearful oath and cried, “Let the storm increase. I will see home to-night in spite of it, or may I never see home!” With that he tossed the child into the open chaise, leaped in after her, lashed his horse, and was off.