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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 254

Among the Balsam Mountains of Western North Carolina is a large spring that promises refreshment, but, directly that the wayfarer bends over the water, a grinning face appears at the bottom and as he stoops it rises to meet his. So hideous is this demon that few of the mountaineers have courage to drink here, and they refuse to believe that the apparition is caused by the shape of the basin, or aberrated reflection of their own faces. They say it is the visage of a "haunt," for a Cherokee girl, who had uncommon beauty, once lived hard by, and took delight in luring lovers from less favored maidens. The braves were jealous of each other, and the women were jealous of her, while she—the flirt!—rejoiced in the trouble that she made. A day fell for a wedding—that of a hunter with a damsel of his tribe, but at the hour appointed the man was missing. Mortified and hurt, the bride stole away from the village and began a search of the wood, and she carried bow and arrows in her hand. Presently she came on the hunter, lying at the feet of the coquette, who was listening to his words with encouraging smiles. Without warning the deserted girl drew an arrow to the head and shot her lover through the heart—then, beside his lifeless body, she begged Manitou to make her rival's face so hideous that all would be frightened who looked at it. At the words the beautiful creature felt her face convulse and shrivel, and, rushing to the mirror of the spring, she looked in, only to start back in loathing. When she realized that the frightful visage that glared up at her was her own, she uttered a cry of despair and flung herself into the water, where she drowned.

It is her face—so altered as to disclose the evil once hid behind it—that peers up at the hardy one who passes there and knows it as the Haunted Spring.

The medicinal properties of the mineral springs at Ballston and Saratoga were familiar to the Indians, and High Rock Spring, to which Sir William Johnson was carried by the Mohawks in 1767 to be cured of a wound, was called "the medicine spring of the Great Spirit," for it was believed that the leaping and bubbling of the water came from its agitation by hands not human, and red men regarded it with reverence.

The springs at Manitou, Colorado (see "Division of Two Tribes"), were always approached with gifts for the manitou that lived in them.

The lithia springs of Londonderry, New Hampshire, used to be visited by Indians from the Merrimack region, who performed incantations and dances to ingratiate themselves with the healing spirit that lived in the water. Their stone implements and arrow-heads are often found in adjacent fields.

The curative properties of Milford Springs, New Hampshire, were revealed in the dream of a dying boy.


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