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The Enchanted Mountain

Category: Tales of the Jungle

Source: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India

The hunters who are continually going about from place to place,
climbing up high hills, descending into deep ravines and making ways
through jungles in search of the wild bison and other game, tell strange
tales of an enchanted place away on the top of a lofty mountain. There,
is a beautiful lake, which is as bright and clear as a drop of morning
dew hanging on the petal of the white water-lily, and, when you drink of
it, you are no longer aweary; new life has come into you, and your body
is more vigorous than ever before. The flowers on the margin of this
enchanted lake are more beautiful than those that grow in any other
spot, and, such is the love of the cherishing spirits for it, that they
care for it as for no other place in this world. Bananas of a larger
growth than can be found in the gardens of man, and oranges, sweeter to
the taste than those we ever eat, are there. The fruits of all trees,
more beautiful to the eye and richer than man can produce, are there,
free to those who can find them. All the fowls usually nurtured by man
and flocking about his door are there, and they are not affrighted by
the presence of the hunter but come at his call. Should the hunter wish
to kill them, his arrow cannot pierce their charmed bodies to deprive
them of life, but the arrow falls harmless to the ground, because the
spirits protect them and their lives are sacred. Great fields of rice
are about this place, and the hunter marvels at the size of the grains
and at the strength of the stalks. No field cared for by man has seen
grain like that which the spirits nourish.

Many men, on hearing of this wonderful mountain-top, have sought it, but
all have returned unsuccessful to their homes, saying, no such place is
on this earth. Only the hunter, who has chased the game through the
jungle, o'er the streams and up the steep mountain-sides, when tired and
discouraged because the coveted prize has gone far beyond his reach, is
rewarded for all his labor, when he finds himself in the garden of
fruit, or on the margin of the enchanted lake, whose waters give renewed
vigor to his wearied body.

Often, when the hunter desires to eat of the flesh of the fowls, he
endeavors to kill the fowls, but no effort of his can take their life,
as the spirits hold them in their care. No mortal can harm them. Nor can
the hunter take any of the fruit away, for, as he leaves the spot, no
matter how he may hold it, it vanishes from his hand. Thus, no man, who
has not seen the place, has eaten of the fruit nor drank of the water;
so, many doubt their existence, for such is the heart of man that he
must touch with his hands, see with his eyes, or taste with his tongue,
ere he can believe. Nevertheless, on the top of the lofty mountain there
is the lake with the cool waters, clear and beautiful, where the fowls
swim on its surface, or drink from its margin, and the grain and the
fruit ripen for those who are loved of the spirits, and are led by them
to this cherished spot where they may rest and be refreshed, and then
return to their wives and children and tell them of the care of the
spirits. The little ones, who have hearts free from guile, believe.

Next: The Spirit-guarded Cave

Previous: A Child Of The Woods

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