There lived in the south a man who so continually boasted of his strength and endurance that all the people called him, “Kee-oo-yai”—the great boaster. Never entered into his ear a tale of danger, but his mouth opened to speak of a greater one which had been his; never a feat of strength but he could tell of one requiring greater strength which he had done, so, when the men of the village talked together and saw him drawing near, they would derisively say, “There is the great boaster coming. We must flee from his face for, is not he as strong and brave as the elephant? And we, compared to him are but as the dogs, or as the pigs.” And the company would separate, so when the boaster reached the place no one would be there.
Once, a young boy came from a distant province, and, hearing of the boaster, said, “Verily, I can bring him to have a face of shame before his neighbors, for, in one thing I can excel any man almost. I can run for a short distance and my heart does not beat faster, neither can any man say that my heart is quicker than when I am but seated, doing no labor. I will challenge the boaster to run up a hill with me, breathing but four times until the top is reached.”
The next day, the boy met and challenged the boaster to run to the top of a small hill, drawing breath but four times on the way. “If you can run and draw breath but four times, I can run the same distance and draw breath but twice,” the boaster said.
When the race was run, many men ran along to see that neither of the runners deceived the other. The boaster ran but a short distance, when he shouted in pain and shame, “Had we been running down-hill, I am sure that I could have done more than you.”
The all the men mocked the boaster, saying, "Your words are truly large, but your works are but small. Never again will we listen to you, for a young lad has overcome one who says that he is stronger than the strongest.”
From that time never were they troubled, for, “Kee-oo- yai,”—the great boaster, was never heard to boast again.
This content is from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Laos Folk-Lore of Farther India, by Katherine Neville Fleeson, originally published 1899.
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