The Song-Bird and the Healing Waters
Once when the snow lay very deep on the ground and the days were grey with frost, there was great sorrow in an Indian village. A dreadful plague had come upon the place and had carried away many of the people. Neither old nor young were proof against its ravages, and the weak and the strong fell helpless before its power. The people tried every means to get rid of the plague, but they had no success. And they prayed to all their good spirits to help them, but no help came. In the tribe was a young warrior who had lost his parents and all his brothers and sisters because of the dreaded disease. Now his young wife fell sick, and he was in great sorrow, for he thought that she would soon follow his parents into the Land of the Shadows. And so he went about in great fear, not knowing when the end would come.
One day he met an old woman in the forest. "Why do you look so sorrowful?" she asked him. "I am sad because my young wife is going to die," he answered; "the plague will carry her off like the others." But the old woman said, "There is something that will save your wife from death. Far away in the East is a bird of sweet song which dwells close to the Healing Waters. Go until you find it. It will point you to the spring, the waters of which alone can heal." And the young man said, "I must find the Healing Waters. Wherever they may be upon the earth, I must find them." So he went home and said good-bye to his friends, and set out eastward on his quest.
All the next day he searched eagerly for the Waters, listening always for the bird of the sweet song. But he found nothing. The snow lay deep in the forest and he moved along with difficulty. He met a rabbit in his path and he said, "Tell me where I shall find the Healing Spring?" But the rabbit scurried away over the snow and made no answer. Then he asked a bear, but he met with the same rebuff. Thus for many days and nights he wandered on, crossing rivers and climbing steep hills, but always without success.
Then one day he emerged from the snow country and came to a land where the airs were warmer and where little streams were flowing.