The Magic Well

: Strange Fortunes of Strange People
: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India

The chow of a large province lay ill. All the doctors of many provinces

were summoned, but none could aid him, nor could any understand his

malady. Lying in his house one day, an old man begged he might see him,

saying he had a message from the spirits. Brought into the presence of

the chow, the old man said, "Last night, as I lay on my bed, I had this

vision. A spirit came to me and touched me and led me to the river's

brink. There I saw a boat prepared for my use. I entered the boat and it

was rowed swiftly by unseen hands down the stream. After a little time,

it stopped at the foot of a tall mountain. Up this the spirit led me,

and through which was no path. We journeyed until we reached the

mountain's top. On its summit were two great walls of rock, and between

the walls was a gate, looking like a gate which led into a city. Leading

me to the other side of the mountain, the spirit bade me ascend the rock

where the foot of man had never before trod, and, far up in the face of

the rock, I saw a small opening, like the mouth of a well. I lay down

and stretched my arm to its full length, but failed to reach the bottom

of the opening. By the side of this opening, on looking more closely, I

beheld a cup tied to the end of a staff. With the cup I dipped pure

water from the well. About to drink of the water, the spirit restrained

me and commanded I should come to thee and tell thee this water, and

this water alone, would heal thee. Therefore have I come, O prince, to

lead thee unto this place."

The prince did not doubt him, but commanded the boats be prepared for

his use. Taking with him a large retinue of servants, and guided by the

aged man, they departed in search of the health-restoring well.

After just such a journey as the man had described, at his bidding, the

boats landed at the foot of a tall mountain, where he led them

unerringly upward, although no path could be seen; the chow, leaning on

the arms of two strong men, followed.

There indeed were the walls of rock and the gateway, as the guide had

described, and, after a long and weary climb, they reached the opening

in the rock.

Taking the staff of the chow and binding his golden drinking-cup

thereto, the aged man dipped from the well and gave it to the prince to

drink. Having drank of the water, and having poured it on his head and

hands, the chow was healed of his sickness, and was as a new man. And to

this day, the water is used for the healing of the people.