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86. Yahula

Yahoola creek, which flows by Dahlonega, in Lumpkin county, Georgia, is called Yahulâ'ï (Yahula place) by the Cherokees, and this is the story of the name:

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Years ago, long before the Revolution, Yahula was a prosperous stock trader among the Cherokee, and the tinkling of the bells hung around the necks of his ponies could be heard on every mountain trail. Once there was a great hunt and all the warriors were out, but when it was over and they were ready to return to the settlement Yahula was not with them. They waited and searched, but he could not be found, and at last they went back without him, and his friends grieved for him as for one dead. Some time after his people were surprised and delighted to have him walk in among them and sit down as they were at supper in the evening. To their questions he told them that he had been lost in the mountains, and that the Nûñnë'hï, the Immortals, had found him and brought him to their town, where he had been kept ever since, with the kindest care and treatment, until the longing to see his old friends had brought him back. To the invitation of his friends to join them at supper he said that it was now too late--he had tasted the fairy food and could never again eat with human kind, and for the same reason he could not stay with his family, but must go back to the Nûñnë'hï. His wife and children and brother begged him to stay, but he said that he could not; it was either life with the Immortals or death with his own people--and after some further talk he rose to go. They saw him as he sat talking to them and as he stood up, but the moment he stepped out the doorway he vanished as if he had never been.

After that he came back often to visit his people. They would see him first as he entered the house, and while he sat and talked he was his old self in every way, but the instant he stepped across the threshold he was gone, though a hundred eyes might be watching. He came often, but at last their entreaties grew so urgent that the Nûñnë'hï must have been offended, and he came no more. On the mountain at the head of the, creek, about 10 miles above the present Dahlonega, is a small square inclosure of uncut stone, without roof or entrance. Here it was said that he lived, so the Cherokee called it Yahulâ'ï and called the stream by the same name. Often at night a belated traveler coming along the trail by the creek would hear the voice of Yahula singing certain favorite old songs that he used to like to sing as he drove his pack of horses across the mountain, the sound of a voice urging them on, and the crack of a whip and the tinkling of bells went with the song, but neither driver nor horses could be seen, although the sounds passed close by. The songs and the bells were heard only at night.

There was one man who had been his friend, who sang the same songs for a time after Yahula had disappeared, but he died suddenly, and then the Cherokee were afraid to sing these songs any more until it was so long since anyone had heard the sounds on the mountain that they thought Yahula must be gone away, perhaps to the West, where others of the tribe had already gone. It is so long ago now that even

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the stone house may have been destroyed by this time, but more than one old man's father saw it and heard the songs and the bell, a hundred years ago. When the Cherokee, went from Georgia to Indian Territory in 1838 some of them said, "Maybe Yahula has gone there and we shall hear him," but they have never heard him again.

Next: 87. The Water Cannibals