The Devil's Millhopper is north Florida's most famous sinkhole, a 120-foot-deep bowl-shaped concavity formed in soluble limestone by the erosive action of water over millennia. This geological formation got its name because fossilized shark teeth, marine shells, and the shattered remains of extinct land animals have all been discovered in its depths, as if these hapless creatures, trapped in a gigantic hopper, had served as grist for the Evil One's mill. In this fiendishly difficult short piece, I have attempted to evoke not only the erosive forces of water and earth but also the buzzing of mosquitoes and other insects that invariably accompany those hardy enough to attempt the 232-step descent on a hot, humid summer day. Tonal ambiguity is intentionally maintained until just before the movement ends with a gentle chromatic cascade, by which point the terra firma of G Major is firmly established.
According to another popular legend, the Devil became enamoured of an Indian princess, but when she rejected his advances, he abducted her and fled. When her tribesmen discovered what had happened, they pursued the Evil One, but to ensure his escape, he opened up a gigantic hole in the earth and all the braves fell within. When they tried to climb from the depths to freedom, one by one they were turned to stone. To this day the water that trickles from the rocky slopes is said to be the tears they continue to shed for their lost princess.