Laos: The Enchanted Mountain

This story is part of the Laos unit. Story source: Laos Folk-Lore by Katherine Neville Fleeson, with photographs by W.A. Briggs (1899).




The Enchanted Mountain

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.


(600 words)





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