Siren Of The French Broad

: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Among the rocks east of Asheville, North Carolina, lives the Lorelei of

the French Broad River. This stream--the Tselica of the Indians--contains

in its upper reaches many pools where the rapid water whirls and deepens,

and where the traveller likes to pause in the heats of afternoon and

drink and bathe. Here, from the time when the Cherokees occupied the

country, has lived the siren, and if one who is weary and downcast sits

beside the stream or utters a wish to rest in it, he becomes conscious of

a soft and exquisite music blending with the plash of the wave.

Looking down in surprise he sees--at first faintly, then with

distinctness--the form of a beautiful woman, with hair streaming like

moss and dark eyes looking into his, luring him with a power he cannot

resist. His breath grows short, his gaze is fixed, mechanically he rises,

steps to the brink, and lurches forward into the river. The arms that

catch him are slimy and cold as serpents; the face that stares into his

is a grinning skull. A loud, chattering laugh rings through the

wilderness, and all is still again.