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The Hero of Esthonia and Other Studies in the Roma

It is said that the spring can produce rain or drought


48: God is frequently called Vanaisa, the Old Father, just as the Devil is frequently called Vanapois, the Old Boy.]



At the foot of the Villina hill, near the church of Lais,[49] is a swamp where rises a spring of water, called from its colour the Blue Spring. It is said that the spring can produce rain or drought, and thus cause dearth or plenty. In time of drought three widows of the same name must go to the spring on a Sunday during service-time, to clean it out and to enlarge the opening. Each must take a spade, hoe, rake, a cake of bread, and a hymn-book with her. But if too much rain falls, the spring must be closed up to a mere crevice, and this is at once efficacious.

One day three widows named Anna opened the spring too wide, when a dreadful rain spread over the country. Sometimes it has happened that women who were about to clean the spring have failed to finish the work during church-time, and it has been fruitless. Another time the people wished to find out how deep was the spring. They let down a stone with a long cord, but drew the cord up without the stone. They then let down a kettle filled with stones, but, to their horror, they drew up a bleeding human head instead. They were about to make another trial, when a voice cried from the depths, "If you attempt this

again, you will all sink!" So the depth of the Blue Spring is still unknown.

[Footnote 49: In the neighbourhood of Dorpat.]



In time of war, a rich lord tried to escape from the country with his family and goods in a coach drawn by six horses. In their haste, the horses swerved from the path, and all were lost in a deep lake of black water. Since that time it has been haunted, and sometimes a black dog tries to entice boys in, or cats and birds are seen about it. One day a man was walking by the pool when his leg was seized, and he was dragged down, but he contrived to seize a bush of juniper, and saved himself.[50] Then he saw some maidens sporting in the water like white swans; but presently they vanished. One day a fisherman caught a black tail-less pike, when the voice of the old nobleman was heard asking, "Are all the swine safe?" And another voice answered, "The old tail-less boar is missing." Many people, too, have seen a great hoop from a coach-wheel, as sharp as the edge of an axe, rise from the water.

[Footnote 50: Dreadful stories are told in many countries of the fiends inhabiting the undrained swamps. Monsters as terrible as those described in "Beowulf" are popularly believed to have haunted the English fens almost to the present day. Aino, in the _Kalevala_ (Runo 4), was lured into a lake by the sight of some maidens bathing; and it is said that it is unsafe for sensitive people to venture near the banks of some of the Irish lakes in the evening, lest they should be lured into the water by the singing of the water-nymphs. In this connection, we may refer to the oft-quoted passage from the notes to Heywood's _Hierarchies of the Blessed Angels_ (1635): "In Finland there is a castle, which is called the New Rock, moated about with a river of unsounded depth, the water black, and the fish therein very distasteful to the palate. In this are spectres often seen, which foreshow either the death of the Governor, or of some prime officer belonging to the place; and most often it appeareth in the shape of a harper, sweetly singing and dallying and playing under the water."--See Southey's _Donica_.]

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