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.