The Spell Of Creve Ciur Lake





Not far west of St. Louis the Lake of Creve Coeur dimples in the breezes

that bend into its basin of hills, and there, in summer, swains and

maidens go to confirm their vows, for the lake has an influence to

strengthen love and reunite contentious pairs. One reason ascribed for

the presence of this spell concerns a turbulent Peoria, ambitious of

leadership and hungry for conquest, who fell upon the Chawanons at this

place, albeit he was affianced to the daughter of their chief. The girl

herself, enraged at the treachery of the youngster, put herself at the

head of her band--a dusky Joan of Arc,--and the fight waged so furiously

that the combatants, what were left of them, were glad when night fell

that they might crawl away to rest their exhausted bodies and nurse their

wounds. Neither tribe daring to invite a battle after that, hostilities

were stopped, but some time later the young captain met the girl of his

heart on the shore, and before the amazon could prepare for either fight

or flight he had caught her in his arms. They renewed their oaths of

fidelity, and at the wedding the chief proclaimed eternal peace and

blessed the waters they had met beside, the blessing being potent to this

day.



Another reason for the enchantments that are worked here may be that the

lake is occupied by a demon-fish or serpent that crawls, slimy and

dripping, through the underbrush, whenever it sees two lovers together,

and listens to their words. If the man prove faithless he would best

beware of returning to this place, for the demon is lurking there to

destroy him. This monster imprisons the soul of an Ozark princess who

flung herself into the lake when she learned that the son of the Spanish

governor, who had vowed his love to her, had married a woman of his own

rank and race in New Orleans. So they call the lake Creve Coeur, or

Broken Heart. On the day after the suicide the Ozark chief gathered his

men about him and paddled to the middle of the water, where he solemnly

cursed his daughter in her death, and asked the Great Spirit to confine

her there as a punishment for giving her heart to the treacherous white

man, the enemy of his people. The Great Spirit gave her the form in which

she is occasionally seen, to warn and punish faithless lovers.





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